Lord Gallaway’s Delight from Alpha Productions is, as the album’s subtitle states “An Excellent Collection of Dances & Gaelic Laments” as performed by the early music ensemble Les Witches with guest Irish harpist Siobhán Armstrong. The music is drawn from various collections of Scottish, Irish and Welsh tunes dating from the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries. All of the music is performed instrumentally. Dance pieces that are the rollicking evidence of some very good times are complimented by slow and sorrowful Laments. The laments are performed by solo harp or by harp and one of the other instruments, which includes (using the spellings to be found in the program notes) luth, guiterne, violon, clavecin, clavicytherium, flutes and violes de gambe.
The early Irish harp has been at the center of musical culture in Ireland for over 1,000 years, and is at the heart of each of these pieces, and of the concept for the album. Only one Irish harp from medieval times remains in Ireland. It is the national emblem of the country and is preserved at Trinity College in Dublin. Harpist Siobhán Armstrong performs on a copy of the Trinity College harp, strung in brass and 18-carat gold.
Music traditions were spread orally at this time, and since very little music was written down, it is difficult to know for sure how it sounded. Les Witches approached their performances from known practices of the Baroque and Renaissance periods, applying styles that were common to both popular and art music. Listening to this is rather like listening to folk music from centuries ago. It is characteristically Celtic sounding, undemanding, and very enjoyable to be around.
The Witches continue their exploration of the music of the British Isles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This series, successfully launched with the disc Nobody’s Jig, sheds new light on songs and dances at the intersection of the art music and folk music repertories.
Our team of witches is joined here by Siobhán Armstrong, a talented harpist specializing in the Irish repertory. Together they recount an alternative history of Great Britain and Ireland, following the tunes as one goes up the course of a river, discovering with delight the treasures each of them has in store: spellbinding melodies and vivid titles which, in their evocation of people and places, bring the pages of history back to life.
1. She Rose and Leit Me In 5:22
2. The Ragg Set By a Gentlemen (Irish Rag) 3:55
3. Ld Gallaways Lamentation 6:07
4. Sr Ulick Burk 4:32
5. Mary O’Neill 3:43
6. On the Cold Ground 3:09
7. Bellamira 3:57
8. Molly Halfpenny (Molly O’hailpin) 3:45
9. Limbrick’s Lamentation 5:57
10. I Loved Thee Once 5:23
11. Siege of Limerick 3:18
12. Counsellor Mc Donoghs Lamentation 8:11
13. Jennys Whim, Role the Rumple Sawny 2:25
14. Lads of Leight 2:59
15. Johney Cock Thy Beaver: A Scotch Tune to a Ground 3:55
16. Kings Hornpipe, Newcastle 2:58
17. Miss Hamilton 4:15
18. Da Mihi Manum (Tabair Dom Do Lámb) 4:06
Performers: Les Witches
Les Witches have been bewitching stages, radio waves and stereos since the end of the last century. Their goal is to resurrect the ambiance of the bars and taverns of Shakespeare’s time through research, memory, intuition and improvisation.
For more information, please visit www.leswitches.com/html/en/lesWitches_en_new.html.
Irish harp: Siobhán Armstrong
Siobhán Armstrong is one of a small number of harpists worldwide who play harps from earlier centuries. Siobhán was born in Dublin, lives in Ireland and works as a freelance performer and teacher, mainly in Europe. With fairly eclectic interests, she is equally at home playing 17th century Italian opera, performing on Hollywood film soundtracks and gigging at the world’s biggest traditional music festivals.
For more information, please visit www.siobhanarmstrong.com.