Traditional Irish Music
Halsingland to Howth is the result of a collaboration between Ralph Doyle, Peter Puma Hedlund and Leo Rickard that has been in the making for over 20 years. Finally they have recognised that this journey needed to be recorded to bring their unique take on the tradition to a wider audience. The result is a fine album that showcases the talents of three musicians that have been living in each others consciousness for a long time, with each bringing a crisp and uncomplicated sense of the tradition to a very rewarding conclusion. This conclusion is an album that is well paced, restrained and uncomplicated in its arrangements. However when you listen you will find that doing uncomplicated isn't easy and the arrangements are engrained with a nuanced and refined touch that stays true to the tradition and provides the musicians with the latitude to bring character to their instruments and the presentation of the tunes.
Throughout the album there is a broad range of tunes and arrangements that in their selection provide the very base upon which the individual musicians intuitive talents shine through. Somehow it works with polkas and marches sitting easily alongside the traditional jigs and reels. This shifts the focus and pace of the album to a much more leisurely affair. The album opens with some well travelled jigs, with the pipes to the fore and guitar player Raphy Doyle shifting effortlessly between rythmn and melody in a beautifully paced set. From this opening we are taken on a journey, from original compositions to Swedish polka's, jigs, marches and a tune dating back to 1814 from Sweden that is familiar to the ear and shows the strong connection that exists between the traditions. This is further demonstrated on another waltz from the 1800's called Rapp-Kalles Vals that blends nyckelharpa and uilleann pipes to wonderful effect.
The album stands out in many ways due to the introduction of an instrument that you would not normally encounter on a traditional Irish album. Peter Puma Hedlund is considered Sweden’s leading traditional player of the modern chromatic nyckelharpa, having won the title World Champion twice, in 1992 and 2000. It may sound strange if you have not previously encountered it, but the amalgamation of nyckelharpa and uilleann pipes produce a sound that enhance the arrangements. The interplay and fusion of these instruments works very well according to the band themselves and on that I would have to agree. Combined with Leo Rickard on uilleann pipes and Raphy Doyle on guitar you have the basis for some fine music.
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