Mick Moloney, Athena Tergis and special guests

 

An Irish Christmas Irish Arts Center***

Here’s a bit of relief from the maudlin fare that clutters the festive season release lists. Recorded live in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen, Mick Moloney and friends train a wide-angle, multicultural lens on the season with some startling effects. The recording quality is pristine and there’s a raft of unexpected tunes and visitors, none more jaw-dropping than Grace Nono, a Filipino singer who traces the artful intricacies of vocal chant with fluid ease. The effeteness and restraint of the version of Blasket Island slow air, Port na bPúcaí(featuring, at a guess as she’s uncredited, fiddler Athena Tergis), somewhat undermines the depth and breadth of a tune more usually associated with the box, but the freewheeling fiddle of Appalachia swings high and wide on Breaking Up Christmas, a song in honour of what we call Nollaig na mBan and the Appalachians call Old Christmas. Revelry and reflection in fine and equal measure. See irishartscenter.org