Reviews

“If you can’t think up a fancy title for an album, then just tell people what it is” seems to be as good a marketing strategy as any, and you know that you’ll never get done under the Trades Descriptions Act.  Bosca Ceoil is Irish for button accordion, and fiddle is English for fidil, so that’s cleared that up. Cathal (fiddle) and Eamonn (accordion) have been playing as a duo since 2008, and this CD is mostly duets and solos, but with Rodney Lancashire guesting on bouzouki and mandolin on five of the fourteen tracks.

The musicianship throughout this release is outstandingly good.  Cathal and Eamonn take a “less is more” approach, eschewing flashy pyrotechnics and preferring a gentle yet direct style which gets to the heart of the music and embodies it with a lift and drive whilst allowing all the subtleties of the tunes to be fully appreciated. This doesn’t stop them from introducing counter melodies and arrangements, however, and, all in all, it’s the sort of playing that draws the listener in and then rewards them handsomely for their time.

The music is influenced a fair bit by the mighty Michael Coleman, who is often held to be the most influential Irish traditional musician of the twentieth century, and the respect which this duo show to the background to their music ensures that twenty-first century playing passes on the flame.  Just to give a contrast, the last track combines a Breton and A Neapolitan dance, which also gets the respectful treatment without losing any of the flair or drive needed.

It really doesn’t get much better than this. Gordon Potter: Livingtradition.co.uk December 2011

Cathal and Eamonn have been performing together as a fiddle-and-button-accordion duo since 2008, and yet this is their debut CD release. As the disc’s plain-spoken title would appear to indicate, much of the record consists of solos and duets. Pick of these has to be Cathal’s vigorous yet highly musical treatment of a pair of hornpipes (track 2 – the second of which, Clay’s, was penned by Cathal himself), and Eamonn’s tricky solo set of reels (track 4), but in truth every single track dazzles with a vital combination of proven musicianship and the virtue of exercising restraint in pacing above expressiveness. Taking that track 4 set of reels as an example, there’s no lack of nifty precision in Eamonn’s expert handling of his chosen instrument, and yet there’s no feeling that he’s hurrying through the notes to prove a point, and the musical communication of those notes is paramount.

The pair of jigs at track 6 is another key example of the musicians’ empathy and their ability to combine and interpolate both unison and counter-melody techniques in their trade-offs; on this and a further four tracks, Eamonn and Cathal are augmented by Rodney Lancashire playing bouzouki or mandolin in nimble and refreshingly understated supporting mode. But it’s for the brilliance, the precision and the sheer presence of the main players’ contributions, naturally, that this disc will be purchased – and for those it will doubtless be hailed as a supreme example of its kind, both uplifting and invigorating, cutting but not grating in its rhythmic drive (check out the marvellous track 7 reel-set) and yet capable of flowing lyricism and impressive dynamic shading on slower pieces like Sergeant Early’s Dream and the air Aisling Gheal.

Presentation is accomplished too; the booklet’s notes on the tunes’ sources are excellent, detailed and most informative. One engineering decision with which I would take issue, however, is that of leaving insufficient space between the individual tracks. The vast majority follow on absolutely instantaneously, with no chance to pause for breath even – this is not standard session practice, and I can’t see the rationale for adopting this technique, even for a continuous home-listening sequence; it does mar the impact of the music-making ever so slightly, I feel, albeit a very minor point to make in the overall scheme of things.  David Kidman : NetRhythms.co.uk-August 2011

For the true true trad fan, it is hard to do better than Bosca Ceoil and Fiddle from Cathal Clohessy and Eamonn Costello on fiddle and button box, respectively. Copperplate in London has it available. This is a hard to find gem. The trad fan will adore this. Really terrific playing from two young men who really understand the tradition and play it gorgeously. We play this a LOT in the office. Just Google Copperplate. Welcome to heaven. Bill Margeson http://www.liveireland.com

This duo from Connemara and Limerick play mostly traditional tunes at a measured pace on button accordion and fiddle, with Rodney Lancashire’s occasional bouzouki or mandolin adding extra colour.  On some of his solos Eamonn Costello’s box playing seems to try a little too hard with the ornamentation, but as a duo they experiment with interesting counterpoint melodies (as on the lovely version of The Strayaway Child, which opens the album) and throughout Cathal Clohessy’s fiddle provides flow and bounce. A careful selection of interesting tunes played with intensity and admirably devoid of any fashionable over-dressing. John Neilson: Taplas-The Voice of Folk in Wales and the Borders Magazine Oct/Nov 2011

I MUST confess I hadn’t come across fiddler Cathal Clohessy or accordionist Eamonn Costello before I received this CD, so it was a pleasant surprise to hear traditional music very much in touch with its roots. The album opens with a five-part jig The Stray-Away Child composed by the legendary Cork-born Margaret Barry – a reference to her childhood – and then goes into hornpipes, reels, slow reels, air and waltzes before closing with a folk dance tune from southern Italy. This is a refreshing album of 14 lovely tracks beautifully played as they were meant to be in simple form with no hint of over production or un-necessary flowery arrangements. Guest player Rodney Lancashire can be heard on five tracks playing bouzouki and mandolin but is never intrusive and simply compliments the duo. Cathal, from Fedamore, Co. Limerick and Eamonn from Carraroe in the Connemara Gaeltacht, have been playing together since 2008 when they met in Limerick and this debut album bodes well for the duo. I am sure we will see them perform live in Britain in the not too distant future. Joe Giltrap- The Irish Post 14/08/11   

I was sure that I’d like this CD before I’d even played it – for a start, the two gentlemen pictured on the sleeve look as if they’re really enjoying the music and each other’s company.  Then there’s the fact that Eamonn Costello is playing the same Cairdín melodeon that I play myself.  And, to top it all, I’ve heard a melodeon called a lot of things in my time … but ‘music box’ has never been one of them!

So – what of the record?  A reviewer at alt-celtic-music wrote: ‘A gentle master-class in the art of traditional Irish music’, and I couldn’t have put it better myself.  We start with a very restrained version on Margaret Barry’s splendid 5-part jig The Stray-Away Child, followed by The Minstrel’s Fancy, a hornpipe I know as The Buck in the Mountain … though we play it a little slower, in the English way – and call it The Duck in the Fountain!  It’s followed by the excellent Claw’s Hornpipe – a tune we’ll definitely have to learn.

Next comes Sergeant Early’s Dream, described as a ‘slow reel’ – though it’s played here as an air, or ‘piece’.  Six more conventional reels follow, including the lovely Gan Ainm.  A nicely judged pair of jigs come next – it’s always surprising to find such a lively tune as The Drowning of Bruckless commemorating the loss of more than 80 fishermen’s lives.  The reel Miss Langford is treated as was Sergeant Early’s Dream, but then breaks into normal tempo after a couple of iterations.

It would be a bit tedious going through each track in turn, though mention should be made of track 13, Philobus / Brian O’Kane’s (waltz and march) , though it should be noted that the ‘march’ is actually played as a barndance – and a damn fine one it makes, too!

It seems a shame to have any grumbles about such an enjoyable and interesting CD, but one thing does rather annoy me.  I feel that any record should allow the listener a moment or two to digest what they’ve just listened to before setting off on the next track.  The default 2 second gap is usually insufficient, in my opinion.  Here we find that the gap has been cut to 1 second (or even less in a few cases), so that there’s often no noticeable break between one tune and the next.  This must have been done deliberately, since defeating the default 2 second gap has to be a conscious decision, and doesn’t happen inadvertently. 
Damned if I understand why that decision was made. But it’s a lovely record all the same. Rod Stradling-http://www.mustrad.org.uk/reviews/r_index.htm

Another gentle master-class in the art of traditional Irish music. www.allcelticmusic.com

The Box and fiddle blend perfectly together note for note … Purely unadorned playing with no added extras…If your perception of a good traditional CD is an explosion of fast paced jazzed up music then this CD is not for you, however, if you prefer thoughtful sensitivity then this is right up your street. Eileen McCabe –Irish Music Magazine.

It’s not every day a debut cuts through the ether with such razor-sharp precision. This box and fiddle duo lay claim to regional styles stretching from north Connaught to west Limerick, but the most striking features of this fresh-faced collection are the idiosyncrasies of their musical personalities and the delicateness of their arrangements. The gothic grandeur of Sergeant Early’s Dream, where fiddle and box don’t so much play the tune as infiltrate its every pore, is akin to the delicate deconstruction of tunes so beloved of Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill. Costello’s box playing is impressively restrained, and his own waltz composition, Áile Dhomhain, a masterclass in minimalism. Clohessy strikes the kind of mournful tone on the Breton An Dró that haunts the subconscious long after the tune has evaporated. Pin-prick precision crossed with musical curiosity. Siobhán Long- The Irish Times

This album by Eamonn Costello and Cathal Clohessy is leisurely music not heady in any extreme, yet it reaches the emotional core … Cathal Clohessy’s fiddling shines on the Minstrel’s Fancy, while Eamonn’s solo on Sean Ryan’s shows a player who is assured in both technique and style and is well able to coax many nuances out of the tunes. Aisling Gheal offers Cathal Clohessy a solo opportunity which he takes and triumphs, his telling of the air bordering on definitive. Rodney Lancashire’s bouzouki and mandolin […] contributes minimalist though subtle and highly ornate work on the album. John Regan Irish Music Magazine

There’s nothing quite like a fiddle/button accordion pairing to warm the cockles and the combination of Limerick’s Cathal Clohessy and Connemara’s Éamonn Costello (with occasional accompaniment from Rodney Lancashire on bouzouki and guitar) proves more than up to the task.Costello shows sensitivity lacked by many box merchants, exhibited to great effect on the reel Seán Ryan‘s, and in cahoots with Clohessy, an equal aficionado of the hidden note, produce music that both lifts the spirit and sets the toes tapping. Geoff Wallis- froots magazine

Remarkable and routine simultaneously, this debut recording from two young bucks is a multi-layered mixture […], One of the remarkable things is that these lads take their time […] The routine aspect of this music is the easy familiarity of the tunes and style, the relaxed duetting [sic]as though this was just another local session, and the total immersion in each others playing which is usually the preserve of much older musicians. When the fiddle and box come together here, they can meld completely into the most perfect of duets, where it’s impossible to hear where one instrument ends and the other begins. The Tempest is a case in point, and the final meaty track of Breton and Italian melodies underlines their tight timing. With this degree of understanding, Clohessy and Costello are certainly a pair to watch for the future. Alex Monaghan- Folk-World

The title of this album, “Bosca Ceoil & Fiddle” becomes blindingly obvious if you know that bosca ceoil is gaelic for accordion, what with Cathal Clohessy being a master fiddler and Eamonn Costello being virtuoso on the squeezebox. Despite the duo having performed together since 2008, this is actually their debut album, it’s been a long time coming, but definitely worth the wait. Occasionally adding the bouzouki and mandolin of Rodney Lancashire, this album brings in stunning individual solo flights to complement the captivating duets. Reel, jig and waltz to great tunes. FATAE Magazine

Buy Album

IrishTradTunes.com

%d bloggers like this: