Sean Ryan: fiddle

Sean Ryan (1919-1985) is probably better remembered today as the composer of many great tunes which Irish musicians often play in sessions all over the world, sometimes without knowing their origin. However, as this wonderful 2-CD set may also serve to establish for those who didn't have the opportunity to hear him in his lifetime, Sean Ryan, from Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, was also a gifted fiddle player with a beautifully lyrical style. Although, he did make a handful of commercial recordings in the 1960s, none, except perhaps for the one solo 78 side he recorded in 1959 for Gael-Linn (see the collection Seoltai Seidte - Setting Sails), really did justice to his playing. Its qualities will be all the more apparent to this collection's listeners because the recordings, many made in Ryan's own kitchen, are unaccompanied and have been magnificently restored. In addition, while CD 1 is mainly of Ryan playing traditional tunes (Ryan's settings are worth close attention though), CD 2 features the composer performing his own tunes. This being Irish traditional music, where each musician is free to express his/her tastes and personality through the musical choices made when setting a tune, I will not begin to argue that Ryan's recordings represent the final word on how to play his compositions. Still, hearing the composer's own take on them can be informative, perhaps even influential. In any event, Ryan's remarkable playing is as powerful on these as on the older traditional material. Altogether, this represents over 50 tracks of magical music. What a gift this is!

Rating: *****

Price: $29.99Recommended
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CD 1
1. Reels: Paddy Fahey's Reel / The Boys of the Lough / Paddy on the Railroad
2. Reels: Tommy Coen's Nos. 1 & 2
3. Reel: Lord Gordon
4. Set Dance: The Three Sea Captains
5. Reel: Miss Monaghan
6. Jig: The Gold Ring
7. Reels: Farrell O'Gara / The Doon Reel
8. Reels: The Wheels of the World / Tom Steele
9. Reel: The Leitrim Thrush
10. Reels: Miss McLeod / The Wild Irishman
11. Jig: Thomas Ryan's Jig
12. Reel: O'Beirne's Delight
13. Reel: Dinny O'Brien's version of The Pigeon on the Gate
14. Reel: The Trip to Durrow
15. Reel: Cosgrove's Reel
16. Hornpipes: The Flowing Tide / The Swan
17. Jigs: Paddy Taylor's / Jackson's
18. Reel: The Star of Munster
19. Jigs: Richard Brennan's / The Cook in the Kitchen
20. Reels: Crowley's Reels Nos. 1 & 2
21. Jig: Tell Her I Am
22. Reels: The Bunch of Keys / The Girl That Broke My Heart
23. Reels: Andy McGann's / The Humours of Scarriff
24. Reels: Bonnie Kate / Jenny's Chickens
25. Jigs: Dooney's Rock / Willie Clancy's Jig
26. Reels: Paddy Kelly's Reel / The Pigeon on the Gate / The Glen of Aherlow

CD 2:
1. Reels: Maura Connolly's Reel / The Edenderry Reel
2. Reel: Dan Cleary's Favourite
3. Hornpipe: Trotting Down the Lane
4. Hornpipe: Sean Redmond's
5. Reels: Bill McEvoy's Reels Nos. 2 & 1
6. March: The Sliabh Bloom March
7. Jigs: The Castle Jig / McKenna's Jig (Connolly's)
8. Reel: Our Lady's Bungalow
9. Hornpipe: The Haymaker
10. Jig: Light as a Feather
11. Reel: Sun Splitting the Stones
12. Hornpipe: The Freehold
13. March: St. Sinneach's March
14. Interview
15. Reels: Pat Lyons' Reel / Patrick's Reel
16. Jigs: Martin Cooney's / The Hawthorn Hedge
17. Reels: The Cornstack / The Singing Kettle
18. Jigs: Tapping Toes / Fr. Kelly's Farewell
19. Reels: The Abbeyleix Reel / The Leix County
20. Jig: Silver Lining
21. Reels: Twilight in Portroe / Skipping Lambs
22. Reel: The Rosenallis Reel
23. Hornpipe: The Rock of Dunamaise
24. Reels: A Tune for the Road / The Blueball Reel
25. Reel: The Dash to Portobello
See also:
     Book - The Hidden Ireland
     Book - Sean Ryan's Dream