Bríd Harper: Inis – tight-knit tunes bound together with skill

The fiddle player is on top form here, backed up by a fine array of musical talent

Inis
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Artist: Bríd Harper
Genre: Traditional
Label: Independent Release

It’s been seven years since Bríd Harper made her solo fiddle debut album, so this collection is a welcome snapshot of a musician at the top of her form. Her choice of accompaniment makes for a deliciously spare and tight-knit gathering of tunes.

The contributions of Breton flute player, piper and duduk player Sylvain Barou and guitarist Nicolas Quemener are beautifully interwoven with Harper's fluid, unhurried fiddle lines, while her decision to include viola de gamba and cittern accompaniment from Ronan Pellen is inspired. Harper's ear for marrying tunes is finely modulated to their subtle inner logic, binding them seamlessly.

Drawing from the well of a sheaf of fine composers, from Tommy Peoples to Charlie Lennon and O'Carolan (whose Mrs Judge she addresses magnificently), Harper's own set of three tunes (an air and two jigs) are standouts. The depth of her emotional reach on her slow air Ag Breathnú ar na Féileacháin shines a welcome light on her own solo fiddle, and it segues effortlessly into her jig pair, The Whistling White Horse and Port Dún Ulún. Her reading of the slow air Caoineadh Uí Dhomhnaill is equally affecting.

There’s a lithe spaciousness about this collection that belies the thought and enormous talent that propels it from start to finish, Harper’s fine fiddle playing now shimmering in the light of her equally fine compositional skills. A true long-player.

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about traditional music and the wider arts

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