Album Review - Brendan Mulholland / Jean's Hill

Within his cover notes Antrim flute player Brendan Mulholland informs us he was ‘talking about this CD for years’ and clearly the end product is a labour of love wrought from those years of diligent research and hard work. Jean’s Hill is a compilation of 12 tracks of the finest flute playing (Grinter Eb, D, Bb), aided and abetted by Stevie Dunne (Guitar/Bouzouki), Francis McElduff (Bodhrán) and Paul O’Donnell (Piano).

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The music for the most part comes from the stable of well known tunes – Maids of Castlebar, Belfast Hornpipe, Farewell to Ireland, Sally Gardens to give a flavour. Seán’s Reel on the first track is a self-composition dedicated to Brendan’s son. Mulholland’s playing is mellow, respectful music with excellent technical (breath and ornamentation) control.

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On track 7, Mulholland plays The Laurel Tree/The Sally Gardens at an unexpected ambling pace, proving that the beauty of the tune will reveal itself regardless without the need to push things to their limit. With Farewell to Ireland however Mulholland demonstrates his capacity to turn up the flute’s turbocharger; with energetic pace and alternating octaves a real cracker of a performance results. Mulholland shows equal energy and power in The Pigeon on the Gate/The Thrush in the Storm.

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A concoction of reels, jigs, hornpipes and airs make up the 12 tracks. For this reviewer, the personal favourite is Factory Smoke hornpipe; Mulholland’s approach to hornpipes (including the old favourite Belfast Hornpipe) leads one to think that for Mulholland hornpipes are a speciality – tasteful, sensitive playing combined with aforementioned technical accuracy.

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This album is the complete package – tunes delivered both at languid or at breathtakingly energetic pace but at all times delivered in rich tones and with a sense of authenticity shining through. TradConnect gives the stamp of approval!

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Buy and visit website www.brendanmulholland.co.uk

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