Séamus McGuire & John Lee: The Legacy Of Stephen Grier – tuned in to the past
The Legacy of Stephen Grier
Seamus McGuire & John Lee
This collection is a remarkable celebration of resurrection and renewal, and of the invigorating influence of musical cross-pollination. Sligo fiddler Séamus McGuire and Leitrim flute player John Lee have dusted off and breathed fresh life into a wealth of tunes collected by Stephen Grier in the late 19th century in north Longford/south Leitrim. Far from fixing them further in aspic, they infuse each tune with the most delicate arrangements and, fittingly, invite harpist Floriane Blancke, fiddler Manus McGuire and mandocellist/pianist/guitarist Garry Ó Briain to colour and shade. The pair’s meticulous research has revealed that their opening tune, Planxty No 12, is a Carolan composition – a rare find, particularly when we thought we knew everything there was to know of Carolan’s music. McGuire’s viola mines deep into the heart of the slow air The Poor Soldier Boy, and John Lee’s flute traces a flinty, mischievous path through Loch Earn Quickstep/O’Connell’s Reel, while together the duo let the tunes ebb and flow between them without shirking grace or danger. This distillation of tunes written for big houses and intimate kitchens is a bounteous gift that keeps on giving.