Traditional Irish Music
DÓNAL McCAGUE Bits 'n' Pieces
In his early twenties, this fiddler from County Monaghan is set to be one of the best Ulster musicians of his generation. He doesn't quite have the sweetness of Peoples or Tourish, nor the florid style of Maguire, but my goodness he's not far away: I'd say it might not be long before McCague is snapping at their heels. Listen to the precision and variation on the five-part jig O'Neill's. Dónal has the confidence to tackle the big old tunes, and to take the bow off the strings, leaving space for the notes to have maximum impact. The Oak Tree and Farrell O'Gara's are similarly impressive, meaty fare given zest and flavour by this phenomenal young fiddler. Not afraid to experiment, McCague takes a few liberties with keys - he seems to have a preference for the old Scots high A/E tunings rather than the more usual Irish G/D, and also throws in a couple of tunes in flats just to show his versatility.
There's no shortage of variety on this recording. As well as plenty of familiar jigs and reels there are polkas, hornpipes, an aching Tommy Peoples slow air, barndances and slip-jigs.Vincent Broderick's Barndance is a melodic highlight, as is the hornpipe version of The Spey In Spate and a couple of fine compositions by Tipperary fiddler Seán Ryan, but I think my favourite is the cracking barndance-tempo version of The Holly Reel. Accompaniment from Michael McCague, Brian McGrath and Ringo McDonagh is spot on. The recording quality is great from Dave Sheridan, the mix is just right (raising the fiddle nicely), the artwork is both attractive and striking, and there are reasonable notes on the tunes. In short, it's all good.Bits 'n' Pieces definitely earns a place in my 2011 top ten. Dónal's website www.bitsnpieces2011.com/ has sample tracks, a gig diary, and much more: go explore.
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