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TRÍONA MARSHALL - Between Two Ways

TRÍONA MARSHALL - Between Two Ways
Private Label TM001

Triona’s status as a Celtic harpist par excellence is unquestioned, and her work with orchestras and The Chieftains has taken her worldwide, but it was the intimacy and spontaneity of an impromptu Belfast street session following a post-gig encounter with box player Martin Tourish and guitarist Tim Edey that was the impetus for this ostensibly solo effort. I use the word “ostensibly” advisedly, for both of those named musicians appear on the album in consort with Triona, and Martin is himself responsible for the composition of all but a handful of the tunes played. As Triona’s own liner note explains, “the emotional connection between music and memory is a powerful one”, here triggered by a remark by her father when moved to tears hearing the air Elegy (“it’s like I’ve been sent a postcard from a place I knew existed but had forgotten about”). Triona cements the connection here too: “Each track represents a postcard from my life as a musician, and celebrates the many friendships music has made for me along the way.”

Between Two Ways scores with its fabulous sequence of tunes that show off Triona’s virtuosity and sensitivity of technique without shouting or grandstanding. Just two of the tracks are performed entirely solo by Triona – a traditional medley based around The Silver Tear, and (to close the disc) a strongly individual reworking of O’Carolan’s Farewell To Music inspired by The Chieftains’ long-serving harpist Derek Bell, whose indelible and enduring legacy Triona here lovingly celebrates. Each of the remaining tracks features a specific guest musician: for instance, two provide a natural platform for Tim Edey’s commandingly deft fingerwork, and Elegy brings Triona into partnership with Chieftains’ supremo Paddy Moloney’s masterful tin whistle playing, while David James’ cello kind of assumes the role of Saint Saëns’ Swan on the haunting Aisling Na hEalaí. A quite different Aisling-style piece, the song Amhrán An Dá Bhóthair, is performed by Seamus Begley to Triona’s beauteous accompaniment. No fewer than three of the album’s tracks (all highly contrasted in mood and tempo) prominently feature a fiddler in tandem with Triona’s harpistry – Sean Keane, Martin Hayes and Deanie Richardson respectively, the latter bringing an American old-time influence into the mix. And, finally (and most invigoratingly), The Hangman’s Set brings on board the Ottawa Valley lumberjack step-dancing skills of Nathan Pilkatzke.

Between Two Ways is a most delightful album, fully reflecting what Triona terms “the all-encompassing nature of music in which the composer, performer and listener come together through the organic development of melody”; and it’s delightfully well recorded too.

David Kidman

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This album was reviewed in Issue 109 of The Living Tradition magazine.