ROBBIE HANNAN - The Tempest; The Ace and Deuce of Piping Vol 3

ROBBIE HANNAN - The Tempest; The Ace and Deuce of Piping Vol 3
NPUCD016 Na Píobairí Uilleann

Never mind about young-looking cops making you feel old, when you realise that someone you first heard of as a ‘promising young …’ is a very mature musician, your joints start to creak.  Robbie Hannan gives the lie, as so many contemporary pipers do, to Séamus Ennis’s mantra that it takes seven years learning, seven years practicing and seven years playing to make a piper.

Hannan’s style pays tribute to Ennis without being enslaved, but he uses the 'close' style beloved of Ennis.  ‘Close’ piping, with its staccato effect, is harder to achieve than the looser ‘open’ style traditionally used by Traveller pipers but Hannan has it mastered here.  The basic difference is that close piping takes as few fingers as possible off the chanter, while open piping does the opposite.  Hannan plays a 'flat' set in B rather than the more modern and widely used concert pitch in D.  This gives a warmer tone to the music, especially effective on slow airs.  The eleven tracks here are classic dance tunes and airs. As you’d expect, reels are in the majority but only just, with five out of the eleven tracks.

Hannan says that his main influences are Ennis, Willie Clancy and Tommy Reck, who never got the wider recognition he deserves.  He also thanks the Fermanagh piper Seán McAloon for the help he gave to the young Hannan. Throughout the insert notes he names the musicians he learned the tunes from; something other musicians ought to copy.
To pick out a few tunes: track 1 is the old favourite, The Flax in Bloom coupled with Corney is Coming, which I first knew as Boney is Coming.  (So much for my hearing)  These are two great reels and Hannan does them justice.  On track 2 is Cailleach an Airgead (The Hag with the Money), which has many songs put to it in Conamara, not all of them fit for polite company (whatever that is).  The title track, The Tempest, was learnt from Derry piper, Joe McLaughlin, and is a fitting title because there's some fierce fingering in it. The jig, Seán Buí, dates from at least the 18th C, and was used by Munster poets as the air for at least 15 songs.  The follow-up is usually known as Pádraig Ó Keefe's because he taught it to so many fiddlers.  The closing reels, The West Wind and Seán Reid's Fancy, are well-known and a fitting conclusion to a really good album of piping.

The Tempest might not be an ideal introduction to the uilleann pipes but it's certainly a good introduction to close piping on a flat set of pipes.  It's definitely a pipers' CD.  Hannan does a really good job of work here and rightly gives thanks to Na Piobairí Uilleann for all the sterling work they do for pipers and traditional music and musicians in general.

Mick Furey

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 82 of The Living Tradition magazine.