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Customer Review

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars twenty-one years learning, 22 Aug 2006
This review is from: The Best of Irish Piping (Audio CD)
`When I hear Seamus', writes Liam O'Flynn in his introduction, `I know I am listening to the old pipers, as distinct from a rendering on a woodwind instrument'. There is certainly a world of difference between the full, grainy sound here and the glib effect produced by the typical modern piper. Ennis' playing had a studied, slightly pedantic quality; he had all the technique but apparently saw no need to be flashy, and the proportion of reels is much lower than you would expect today. Ennis seems to have been most taken not with the barnstorming tunes but the ones with plenty of interesting twists, and these are present in abundance. Topping the lot is an epic ten-minute version of `The Fox Chase' - brilliant, though I think I detect an edit just before the final section.

There are a couple of peculiarities. The title is certainly misleading, implying as it does a compilation; in fact this is a re-release of two complete albums recorded in the 1970s. The air of pedantry extends to Ennis' sleevenotes, which include a number of fanciful interpretations of the tunes. Personally (`Fox Chase' notwithstanding) I incline to Ciaran Carson's theory that most titles are purely adventitious; a tune called `The Rainy Day' is probably not a musical attempt to actually describe a rainy day. Ennis translates the titles of his song airs - `Ned of the Hill' instead of `Eamon a'Chnoic'- which would not be usual now. The notes are also riddled with printing errors, including the ludicrous `macaronie' for `macaronic' and `changer' for `chanter'; this makes the package seem a little slapdash. But if you enjoy Irish piping in its authentic and unaccompanied form, this is fantastic value for money.
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