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CD review: Eire Time

Gary Curtin
Foden's Band
Conductor: Michael Fowles
Doyen Recordings: DOY CD401


Eire Time provides a thoroughly engaging musical self portrait of Gary Curtin; and a colourful, no holds barred one at that too.

It’s a revealing debut release of cogent artistry from a richly talented, multi-faceted performer: Contrasts of extravagant ebullience are tempered by considered containment; playful amuse-bouche lollipops accompanying the meaty substance of valuable new additions to the repertoire. 

The shamrock and Guinness packed signature title track may be as authentically ‘oirish’ as an Old Mother Riley plastic airport theme pub, but it cleverly puts an immediate smile on the face.

Abundant energy

Elsewhere the virtuoso stuff is played with abundant energy and grandiose, stylistic wit; from the impish trickery of ‘Valflickans Dans’  and fantastical ‘Carnival of Venus’  to the mischievous hyperactivity of ‘Dance of the Goblins’  and the oddity of ‘Eternal Source of Light Divine’. 

Lyrical interludes are offered by the curiously flavoured ‘The Water is Wide’,  expressive ‘In Christ Alone’  and the tender passion of ‘From Your Smile’  - each led with an understanding focal presence by the soloist.  

Lyrical interludes are offered by the curiously flavoured ‘The Water is Wide’,  expressive ‘In Christ Alone’  and the tender passion of ‘From Your Smile’  - each led with an understanding focal presence by the soloist.  

As impressively delivered as these tracks are - as is his vocal lead on the 1990 pop ballad ‘Get Here if You Can’  (backed by a classy cocktail lounge quartet of John Barber (piano), Jim Fieldhouse (saxophone), Anthony Mann (kit) and Andy Cattanach (tuba)), it is the brace of major works that brings substantive and lasting heft to the release. 

Thrillingly inventive

Bert Appermont’s ‘Cantiphonia’  (skilfully arranged by Paul McGhee) is a thrillingly inventive ‘concerto’ dipped in a stream of self conscious Mahler and Rachmaninov influences that thanks to the composer’s appreciation of his source inspiration has a melodic originality that never once strays into meaningless pastiche. 

The pulsating ‘Contrasti’  gives way to a flowing central ‘Romanza’  with its Bach-like underpinning, before a dramatic ‘Fugato’  finale flies like an unstoppable projectile to its conclusion.  

These are welcome additions to add to the repertoire; both played with commanding, definitive assuredness by the soloist, aided by the excellent, tightly controlled accompaniment from Foden’s under Michael Fowles.

A thumping opening strike immediately pins your senses in place with Tom Harrold’s viciously dramatic ‘Deep Surge’  – a work that deliberately sets the soloist and ensemble against each other like repelling poles of a magnet; strained lines of sinuous thought, fraught, edgy and tense, even in reflection.  

These are welcome additions to add to the repertoire; both played with commanding, definitive assuredness by the soloist, aided by the excellent, tightly controlled accompaniment from Foden’s under Michael Fowles.

Iwan Fox


To purchase: https://wobplay.com/site/view?asset_id=vnXjA1bjE9

Playlist:

1. Eire Time (Andrea Price)
2. The Water is Wide (Trad arr. Stephen Roberts)
3. Cantiphonia – Concerto for Euphonium and Brass Band (Bert Appermont arr. Paul McGhee)
i. Contrasti
ii. Romanza
iii. Fugato
6. Eternal Source of Light Divine (Jonathan Bates)
7. From Your Smile (for Jamie Elis Curtin) (Paul Lovatt-Cooper)
8. Dance of the Goblins (Antonio Bazzini arr. Simon Oliver)
9. Deep Surge (Tom Harrold)
10. In Christ Alone (Richard Phillips)
11. Vallflickens Dans (Hugo Alfven arr. Frode Rydland)
12. Get Here If You Can (Brenda Russell arr. John Barber)
13. Carnival of Venus (Allen Vizzutti arr. Jonathan Bates)

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