Séamus Ennis
Forty Years of Irish Piping
Green Linnet (www.greenlinnet.com)

cd cover Since my old vinyl copy is worn out, it is a great joy to have this recording available again, this time as a CD reissue. I would not have discovered the sounds of the uilleann pipes, or have found the music of such masters as Leo Rowsome, Patsy Touhey or Liam Walsh without the recordings of the great Séamus Ennis. He opened my ears to a wonderful body of traditional music on an instrument as peculiarly Irish as the smell of a burning peat fire.

These are classic recordings on the pipes, tin whistle and fiddle by a monumental figure whose collecting and broadcast work with the Irish Folklore Commission, Radio Eireann and the BBC Sound Archives in the '40s and '50s expanded the world's awareness of Irish music and culture.

Particularly interesting here are some early recordings that Ennis made for Radio Eireann in 1940, at the age of 21. On this CD, one can compare his energetic youthful versions of "The Bucks of Oranmore" and "The Silver Spear," for instance, with renditions made thirty years later, and have a difficult time deciding which are finer. A few errant squawks from his ancient instrument never detract from the emotion that goes into the best of his playing. The sound is pure Séamus Ennis.

Some short (and long) spoken interludes are included, including with a full blown tall tale, "Don Niperi Septo," which is as charming today as it was on the original 1977 release. The notes include lovely vintage photographs, with one of 4 year old Seamus cradling a set of toy pipes. This is a great reissue of some beautifully old-fashioned Irish music, and long overdue. - Frank Dalton

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