The Flute And Tin Whistle

cd cover
Matt Molloy
For many listeners, the wavering, piercing sound of the tin whistle personifies the misty, fog-swept Irish countryside. While it is among the easiest instruments to learn to play a tune upon, it is extremely difficult to master, with murderously subtle embouchure and fingering. The tin whistle allows for agility, yet permits the long-breathed, metaphysical melodic lines that soundtrack composers and admen seem to find so irresistible, in or out of context. Mary Bergin is the most revered of the tin whistle players, and her level of technical perfection and gift for inspired melody are astonishing. The two volumes of "Feodóga Stáin" (Shanachie) remain state-of-the-art and are unlikely to be surpassed. She has also recorded with the all-female Irish Baroque trio, Dordan. Among their albums, "Irish Traditional & Baroque" (Shanachie) is a stately charmer, and "The Night Before - A Celtic Christmas" (Narada) admirably reflects the brightness of the season. Paddy Moloney of The Chieftains is also a notable tin whistle player and his flute playing is excellent too; he plays both on their albums.

In traditional music, the womanly mezzo-to-alto warmth of the wooden flute is almost universally preferred over the more silvery metal flute, both for its timbre and because it allows the player to bend notes and slide around in various registers. There are many good-to-superb players, but Matt Molloy would appear at the top of any list. He was a member of The Bothy Band and Planxty, and is now with The Chieftains. His eponymous album with Donal Lunny on bouzouki (Green Linnet) is brilliant, as are "Heathery Breeze" (Shanachie), and "Stony Steps" (Green Linnet). Molloy also owns a pub in Westport, County Mayo, and has been known to join sessions when the spirit moves him. There is a live recording of some sessions there called Music At Matt Molloy's (Real World).

Coming next: The Harp and O'Carolan

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