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Own label CMPCD01

This young duo are from the same mould as Fox & O'Flaherty or Peoples & Ryan: outstanding musicians whose music has developed and grown together over several years, to give an almost genetic empathy and unity. This is instantly apparent in the opening reels: the confident sashay into Miss McGuinness, the easy move through Jack Coughlan's Fancy and the lovely change into Jim Kennedy's, with variations in unison. There's an uncanny degree of tight controlled playing on The Forgotten Fling, and then a great leap into Miss Galvin's. Slower tunes are sweetly handled too: Holly's delightful Planxty Dermott Grogan for fellow Mayo musician is one of many highlights, and her harp solo With Her Dog and Her Gun is a sublimely peaceful air.
I should explain that most of Ceolmhar features accordion and concertina duets, raw and powerful instruments combining to sweep all before them, but for three tracks Holly switches to the harp: total contrast, and lovely playing, both on the slow pieces and on a pair of well-known reels. Jonathan takes his solos on a set of gentle polkas from his native North Kerry, on a trio of reels inspired by Tulla and Kilfenora bands, and on a couple of fine jigs ending with one of Paddy Fahy's.called Paddy Fahy's. There's a concertina solo too, two rolling John Kelly reels including the popular West Cork Reel.

While Holly and Jonathan show off their individual abilities in the middle of the CD, it's the duet tracks which really make this a memorable recording. Saskatoon Jig bounces along in perfect oneness, Bantry Bay is a nicely syncopated hornpipe which keeps a steady pace, and the final track shows split-second synchronisation on three of Holly's own fine reels. Ceolmhar is an exemplary duet album, with a rich and varied store of music, enhanced by some excellent accompaniment and first class packaging. Highly recommended: and can tell you more.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 84 of The Living Tradition magazine.