There are Celtic Music specialty radio shows and on-demand audio channels. Celtic Music albums are sold in health food and yoga stores. We know it when we hear it. Right? So, what is it? There’s a loose definition (or maybe tacit agreement) that Celtic Music is found in those European cultures where the Celtic tribes invaded. Aside from Ireland and Scotland, Wales qualifies, as does Brittany, the Galician part of Spain, the Isle of Man. If we focus just on the Gaelic language group and fine tune it to just Scotland and Ireland, we really know what we are hearing, right? Do we? While there is plentiful cross-pollination between these two nations and an ancient shared heritage, they are not the same place, and their music is not a singleRead more common recipe using slightly different ingredients. Irish stew is not haggis. There are differences grand and small, subtle and great. Distinct nations with different histories will evolve different artistic natures, and this is played out in a joyful noise in our Celtic lands. Ronn McFarlane’s heritage and lifelong interest in Scottish music allows us to walk first (as Neil Munro put it) “song-haunted over the Moors.”
For the latest album in his already rich discography, Ronn McFarlane takes us on a musical journey to Ireland and Scotland, highlighting both the vivacity and delicacy of the lute. The album is laid out with incredible care. You’ll hear the touching sadness in “The Lone Vale”, a traditional Scottish tune played with such a soft insistence you could fall into a melancholy trance. Then comes “Flee Over the Water,” another Scottish traditional tune, but with such a spirit of happiness and a sense of recovery, it seems to offer the courage to look up and out at the horizon. Irish tracks, like “The Monaghan Jig” and “The Kid on the Mountain” are irresistible.
And what a beautiful way to end the CD: “The Butterfly”, a traditional Irish piece that concludes the album, will make you fall hard for the magic of Ronn McFarlane’s lute.
Going beyond traditionJune 8, 2019By Ralph Graves (Hood, VA)See All My Reviews"By my count, Ronn McFarlane has recorded at least 14 albums of Celtic music, both as a soloist and as a member of the Baltimore Consort. Scottish tunes of the 17th Century were often transcribed for lute (and McFarlane's recorded a good deal of it). This release presents McFarlane playing his own lute arrangements of Irish and Scottish tunes. And they work really well. The sound of the traditional Irish harp isn't that different from a lute. Both are plucked stringed instruments with a pleasingly soft attack and warm, intimate sound. McFarlane is a past master of his instrument (or instruments in this case). For this recording, he uses a 13-course lute. The instrument provides a wide tonal range, letting him change the character of the music by shifting registers. The tunes are grouped in sets, making the disc a series of small, self-contained suites (or dance sets). A fair number of works by Turlogh Carolan are included, which lay very well on the lute. The recorded sound is exceptionally fine. Sonos Luminus recorded in DXD at 24 bit/352.8kHz. What does that mean? On a good playback system, you should hear all the fine detail of the instrument, including overtones. McFarlane's playing is impeccable and lovingly delivered. This is music he knows intimately, and his performance shows it. I'd highly recommend this release to anyone who loves early music, Celtic traditional music, and exceptional playing in general. "The Celtic Lute" holds to Ronn McFarlane's high standards of musicianship and taste."Report Abuse
Ronn McFarlands Gift to Us All ...December 1, 2018By J. Narbonne (Canyon Country, CA)See All My Reviews"KUSCs brilliance in bringing new and existing classical music into my life at just the right moment has made this Holiday Season that much richer with the stunning lute music of Ireland, as played by the magnificent Ronn McFarland ..."Report Abuse
Celtic LuteSeptember 15, 2018By James E Morgan (Olympia, WA)See All My Reviews"My wife's fiddle teacher, who is internationally famous but humble, thinks this is an outstanding album. So do I, who am not a fiddler nor a lutenist, think it is wonderful."Report Abuse