Ensemble Musica Humana | Turlough O'Carolan: A Life in Song

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Classical: Baroque Folk: Irish Traditional Moods: Instrumental
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Turlough O'Carolan: A Life in Song

by Ensemble Musica Humana

This groundbreaking album celebrates the legacy of 18th century Irish harper and composer, Turlough O'Carolan, bringing to life a collection of his lesser known music and poetry on period instruments.
Genre: Folk: Baroque
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Planxty Burke
2:55 $0.99
2. Carolan's Draught / Carolan's Quarrel With the Landlady
3:38 $0.99
3. Dr. John Stafford (Carolan's Receipt)
3:02 $0.99
4. Carolan's Concerto
2:59 $0.99
5. Kean O'Hara
3:06 $0.99
6. George Brabazon, First Air / George Brabazon, Second Air
2:44 $0.99
7. Mrs. Judge
4:46 $0.99
8. Carolan's Ramble to Cashel
2:10 $0.99
9. Planxty O'Rourke / Planxty Sweeney
2:58 $0.99
10. Bridget Cruise, First Air
4:25 $0.99
11. Bridget Cruise, Third Air
1:57 $0.99
12. Bridget Cruise, Fourth Air
5:35 $0.99
13. Lord Inchiquin
3:51 $0.99
14. Eleanor Plunkett
3:15 $0.99
15. Hewlett
2:05 $0.99
16. Sheebeg and Sheemore
3:43 $0.99
17. Colonel John Irwin
2:12 $0.99
18. Fanny Power
3:04 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738), the celebrated harper-composer, lived at a time of cross-cultural influences shaping the music of Ireland. In the early 18th century new classical styles from Britain and the continent became the fashion alongside Irish traditional music, and the same rich variety is echoed in Carolan’s compositions. As a professional travelling harper, Carolan composed musical ‘gifts’ for his aristocratic patrons, the tune named for the host and created in the patron’s preferred musical style. The broad array of stylistic genres presented in this recording range from ancient modal harp airs with gapped scales (Bridget Cruise, First Air) to the elegant dance forms of Europe’s High Baroque (Mrs. Judge). For lively tunes, Carolan framed his planxties in the popular forms of jigs and hornpipes (Planxty George Brabazons) as well as writing witty, sparkling drinking songs in a strophic style (Dr. John Stafford). Italian music was very much in vogue in 1700s Dublin, with works of the Baroque masters Corelli and Vivaldi performed in recitals throughout the city. In similar mode, Carolan cleverly infused his Irish music with an Italian touch, as in his Concerto, here arranged and performed in concerto form with alternating solo and tutti sections.
In Carolan’s lifetime, harp tunes were handed down in an aural tradition, as many of the harp players, including Carolan, were blind. In time Carolan’s tunes began to appear in print, and the selections in the first published collection of Irish music, the Neal Collection of 1724, are predominantly by Carolan. As the 18th century progressed, these popular melodies lived on in the repertoires of the flute, violin and uilleann pipes, new instruments appreciated for their clearly audible tone and also their portability in contrast to the robust Gaelic harp. This recording, Turlough O’Carolan: A Life in Song, is an imagined re-creation of a gathering of musicians in a music room of the early 1800s, as Carolan’s music was ever more known from the published Bunting collections. In the style of the period, several melody instruments combine with Gaelic voice and harp accompaniment. Whereas the earlier wire strung harp, or clàirseach, of Carolan had a limited fixed tuning, by the early 1800s newly invented gut strung harps with sharping mechanisms were preferred as more idiomatic to chromatic classical art music. John Egan’s ‘Portable Irish Harp’ became the centerpiece of music rooms in Dublin and the great houses across Ireland, at hand for music-making along with flutes and pipes in family instrument collections.

Lidia Chang- Gerock flute, London (c.1820)
Laura Osterlund-recorder and whistle
Nancy Hurrell- Egan ‘Portable Irish Harp’, Dublin (c.1820), Sligo harp by Rick Kemper
Joseph Finnegan Beckwith- voice
Rosanne Santucci-uilleann pipes
Tony Keegan-percussion



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