Phil and James, Legends

Once more I’m copying a blog I wrote a little over a year ago to this blog, for wider readership.  It is about a CD featuring Phil Coulter and James Galway.  As I read this, I see I wrote about only four songs.  However, the CD is worth listening to in its entirety.

Subject : Phil and James, Legends

Posted Date: : May 7, 2010 8:25 AM

As a one-time flute player, I really like James Galway.  It seems among some of us we contend between Galway and Jean Pierre Rampal, and I choose Galway because of the music he plays, and the other performers he often appears with.  I think that had I continued with the flute beyond high school band and orchestra, I might have become a good as he, or perhaps Jethro Tull.  But once again, the era I was born in was a hindrance – the best I could have ever hoped for was to become a teacher, and I just wanted to be known.  So I sold my flute soon after high school.

My mom did buy me a new one for Christmas of 1978, and I played for two seasons with the Austin Civic Wind Ensemble, but trying to take college courses and work a full time job interfered with my practice, and I was, at the same time, a member of the Austin Civic Chorus, and decided when choosing between the two, to stay with the chorus.  And I eventually sold that flute as well.

But I digress, back to Coulter and Galway.  This CD has 14 tracks on it, but I want to comment on only four of them – it’s all good, these four just have bigger meaning.

Phil is accredited with the annotations, which I take to mean the liner notes.  So I am quoting him here.

Lament For The Wild Geese (Phil Coulter)  “In the course of Irish history the term ‘Wild Geese’ was given to Irish soldiers who fought with distinction in the armies of Europe.  Forced into exile after defeats like Kinsale, these warriors carried on their battle with the English by enlisting in the ranks of their enemies abroad.  The irony is that although driven by a love for Ireland, so many died in a foreign field fighting a war which wasn’t theirs.  This soaring melody was composed by Phil Coulter.”

So what is the melody?  It is the melody for Paul’s Recuerdame.

An Cail n Fionn (Natasha) (Phil Coulter):  “Gaelic for ‘The Girl with the Golden Hair’, this tune was a wedding gift from composer Phil Coulter to his friend Liam Neeson on the occasion of his marriage to the lovely Natasha Richardson.  Very melodic, very Irish, and very romantic, it opens with the atmospheric and distinctive sound of the concert flute’s Irish cousin, the low whistle”.  I think our collective hearts broke when Natasha died after her collision during a skiing vacation in, I think, Vermont, last year.

(added comment:  of course, we all now know Noirin, as sung by Neil on Heritage, is a closer to this wonderful marriage, written for Liam on the death of his beloved Natasha.)

Harry’s Game (Paul Brennan).  “This is the song which launched the international career of the Irish group Clannad, and resurfaced recently, featured in the movie Patriot Games.  From the haunting sound of the uilleann pipes at the opening to the monk-like chant in the chorus, this track captures the essential mood of Celtic myths and legends.”  The reason I bring this up is because I thought it was the other way around – I thought it was composed (by one of Maire Ni-Bhrannain’s relatives who is in Clannad with her) for Patriot Games and then put into one of their CDs.  I suppose because I heard other of their recordings before I heard Harry’s Game.

And finally,

Music for a Found Harmonium (Simon Jeffes-Penguin Cafe Orchestra).  “This cute little tune surfaced only in recent years, written and recorded by the Penguin Cafe Orchestra, but has already become part of the Irish repertoire.  In this arrangement with flute and piano trading licks, it becomes a sort of Irish ‘Dueling Banjos'”.  I list this song because it is one of my favourites, and I played it at least once a month on my In Tune With Keltia radio show – the rendition I played was from a recording called Celtic Fiddle Festival, with Kevin Burke, Johnny Cunningham, and Christian LeMaitre, featuring guitarist John McGann.

Musicians on this CD include Brendan Monaghan and David Cooke, two we know from Celtic Thunder, and David Downes (Celtic Woman).  It is copyrighted 1997.


About carolstepp

Music is about the most important thing in my life, and I follow a large number of musicians, particularly Irish, Scots, Classical, Crossovers of any of these. I was writing a blog about Celtic Thunder regularly on MySpace, and now I have left them after a year, and will start writing my blogs here. I am 70, retired, living on Social Security, and have a lot of social network fans.
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