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PADDY GLACKIN & ROBBIE HANNAN "Seidean Si" Gael Linn CEF CD 171

When two musicians of this calibre get together, the result has to be good. In this case, it's very good indeed. Paddy Glackin and Robbie Hannan are two of the most respected Irish traditional musicians of their generation. They each have an excellent solo album (Paddy on Gael Linn CEFCD153, Robbie on Claddagh CD53CD), and while Paddy has been presenting music on TV, Robbie's playing has inspired several tracks on recent albums as well as providing numerous session tunes. The combination of these two master musicians is welcome indeed.

Much of the music here comes from the Donegal tradition, particularly from the playing of fiddler John Doherty, and is a real test of the piper's skill. Robbie's piping is well up to the task, though, and his use of the resonators complements the melodies and mimics the ringing strings of a Donegal fiddler. Paddy is also an excellent exponent of the Donegal style, and his fiddling here does justice to some great old tunes.

Of fifteen tracks, eleven are duets where the fiddle and pipes blend and harmonise perfectly. The understanding between the two players is quite breathtaking, with first one and then the other rising above the drone of the pipes but never stealing the other's thunder. These tracks would make a fine album on their own, but the addition of four solo tracks (two each) adds the touch of greatness. The two solo jig sets show how different Paddy and Robbie's playing can be and how cleverly they complement each other: Paddy's style is percussive and rhythmic, relying more on the bow than the fingers, whereas Robbie plays a largely open style giving a more flowing sound with occasional staccato notes for variation. Despite these differences, their duets are seamless and natural - the result of many long and painful sessions after hours, no doubt. Well, it certainly paid off.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 13 of The Living Tradition magazine.