"Sul fronte world, il BF Consigliato della settimana è “Sibling Revelry” delle irlandesi The Casey Sisters, squisita sintesi di raffinatezza e alta class musicale"
- "Blogfoolk's CD of the week is 'Sibling Revelry' from the Casey Sisters, an exquisite synthesis of refinement and high class music."
"Spectacular..." Full article here.
"Rich and lovely" Full review here.
"E’ uscito il 15 ottobre 2015 ed è già tra i “Best Folk Albums” del 2015 per il britannico Daily Telegraph: “Sibling Revelry, il debutto discografico del brillante trio delle sorelle Casey (Ní Chathasaigh in Gaelico), ben rappresenta un sodalizio musicale di prima classe. La cantante e violinista Nollaig Casey (già coi Planxty e i Coolfin) suona meravigliosamente nell’incantevole Lament for General Monroe. Máire Ní Chathasaigh dimostra ancora una volta perché sia ritenuta una delle migliori suonatrici di arpa nel mondo. Mairéad Ní Chathasaigh ha una voce dolce, unita a un raffinato talento nel suonare il violino. In tre tracce del disco le sorelle sono accompagnate da Arty McGlynn alla chitarra acustica. Siamo di fronte a un’opera di splendida atmosfera, ancor più in Connamara, inedita composizione di Edward Bunting (1773–1843), ritrovata nella libreria della Belfast’s Queen’s University.” Originarie di Bandon, nella contea di Cork, le tre sorelle danno vita a un disco bellissimo, una delle perle del folk in Europa per questo 2015. Nollaig alla voce, al violino, alla viola e al thin whistle, Maire all’arpa, al pianoforte e alle tastiere e Mairead alla voce, al violino, al thin whistle e al low whistle sono accompagnate in alcuni brani, rimanendo sempre in famiglia, da due altre “star” del folk come Arty McGlynn alla chitarra e Chris Newman che si cimenta al basso. Nelle varie tracce dell’album si alternano brani provenienti da fonti scritte (dalle collezioni di Francis O’Neil a quelle di Ryan), per poi passare all’immancabile O’Carolan e passare poi ad esplorare il repertorio di trascrittori di musica per cornamusa come Canon James Goodman. Non mancano i brani provenienti dal repertorio di organetto e concertina, come “The Mealagh Valley Polkas” e Lament for “General Monroe”. Bella la composizione di Maire, “Harps in Bloom”, composta nel 2010 per il venticinquestimo anniversario del “Cairde na Cruite’s Cúirt Chruitireachta” (Festival Internazionale dell’arpa irlandese) ed eccellenti i due canti di derivazione familiare, imparati da Mareid e Nollaig dalla madre Una, rispettivamente “The Bonnie Boy in Blue” e “A Dhroimeann Donn Dílis” (un’allegorica canzone politica probabilmente del diciottesimo secolo, nella quale l’Irlanda viene raffigurata come una fedele mucca bruna). “Dark Lochnagar”, è una canone su parole di Lord Byron, la cui musica fu raccolta da Cecil Sharp da un irlandese residente a Londra; attualmente la melodia è maggiormente conosciuta come brano strumentale nell’attuale repertorio in terra d’Irlanda, mentre il canto è ancora in uso in Scozia, ma eseguito su una melodia differente. Una lunga suite intitolata “The Bandonbridge Suite” chiude il disco: si tratta di una rappresentazione in musica della storia della città di Bandon che raccoglie composizioni delle tre sorelle ed è stata eseguita per la prima volta nel 2014 alla settimana dell’arpa del Bandon Walled Town Festival La piccola perla del disco è infine rappresentata da “Connamara” (non ho sbagliato nel copiare, l’autore usava questo spelling!): grazie alla Biblioteca della Queen’s University di Belfast è stato possibile usare uno spartito manoscritto inedito di Edward Bunting. Ed è anche un brano molto bello. Così come questo disco è assolutamente imperdibile!"
Andrea Del Favero
"'Sibling Revelry' might best be described as effortless - it doesn’t shout about its greatness with faster-than-light playing or painstakingly crafted sound, and that’s part of the attraction. Instead, the arrangements are stripped back and organic and the quality rests on the pure skill and elegance of the playing.
The album opens with a stomping hornpipe named after a ruined castle in the sisters’ home town of Bandon, then moves on to a Turlough O’Carolan tune (Katherine O’more). Reflective, lilting pieces such as this seems to be where the sisters are most at home; later they play Connamara, a previously unpublished tune by Edward Bunting. The instrumentation here is superb, the strings particularly providing a rich, full accompaniment without sounding too orchestral.
Among the most striking pieces is Lament for General Monroe. Solo fiddle done well is always a treat, but it’s rare to hear playing that seems to bypass the instrument and come straight from the musician’s soul. It’s flawless and totally captivating.
Dance tunes aplenty space out the slower tunes, lifted by sparkling accompaniment from the harp and occasionally joined by guitar. The Bandonbridge Hornpipe, composed and played by Mairéad, stands out particularly with its driving melody and has a more danceable, down-to-earth sound than many of the others on the album.
Bonnie Boy in Blue, one of the three songs on the album, is also a standout track, demanding attention with strong, immediate vocals and a lilting tune. The other songs are a little more quiet and cautious, although this works well with their ethereal sound.
The sisters’ compositions are of as high a standard as their selection of traditional material - perhaps best shown in the final six tracks, The Bandonbridge Suite. Composed as a musical representation of the town of Bandon, the suite begins contemplatively, picks up pace with The Earl of Cork’s Allemand - a complex and technically intriguing tune - and finishes with a reel with all three of the sisters and their guest guitarist Arty McGlynn joining in.
A collaboration of this standard doesn’t come along every day. It sounds good on paper; it sounds even better in practice, perhaps because aside from the sisters’ deserved renown, they are ultimately drawing from their closeness to the tradition and to each other."
"At the end of this meeting of arguably Irish music’s foremost family group there’s a suite giving a musical representation of their home town, Bandon in West Cork’s history. It could just as well be a depiction of the Casey Sisters themselves, having grown up as the only traditional music players in town, returning to show the mastery that’s given them global reputations. Thumbing of noses doesn’t sit with the warmth and intimacy that permeates Sibling Revelry, though. This is high-end music-making, virtuosic yet presented in a way that puts the music first, the arrangements geared towards clear melodicism and rich, flowing, soulful exprzession. Máire (harp, piano, keyboard), Nollaig (fiddle, viola, whistle) and Mairéad (fiddle, whistle, flute) complement each other brilliantly on beautiful airs and superbly measured tune sets and the latter pair’s singing – Nollaig’s slightly wary-sounding on The Bonnie Boy in Blue; Mairéad’s sweet and lovely on A Dhroimeann Donn Dílis – emphasises the sheer depth of feeling they have for the Irish tradition."
"Intimacy and intuition are at the heart of this radiant collection.
Máire Ní Chathasaigh, Nollaig Casey and Mairéad Ní Chathasaigh are already highly regarded, but together, the sum of their parts reveals a generosity of spirit, a shared delight in the tunes and an appetite for forensic musical excavations.
Máire’s harp is at its subtle best on O’Carolan’s Katherine O’More, its sotto voce conversation with the fiddle giving full voice to the tune’s delicacies.
The Bandonbridge Suite, composed by the sisters, is a playful, meditative and sweeping reflection on a part of the country seldom referenced in the traditional music canon.
Máire’s vocals bring a rich dimension and the unveiling of Connamara, a previously unpublished tune from the Bunting collection, is a further treat."
"This has to be my favourite album title of the year. Sibling Revelry, the debut album from the distinguished Casey-Ní Chathasaigh sisters, is an album of first-class musicianship. Singer and fiddle-player Nollaig Casey (once of Planxty and Coolfin) plays beautifully on the haunting Lament for General Monroe. Máire Ní Chathasaigh shows throughout why she is hailed as one of the world's best harp players. Mairéad Ní Chathasaigh has a sweet voice as well as a fine talent on the fiddle. They are joined on three tracks by Arty McGlynn on acoustic guitar. This is a wonderfully atmospheric album, never more so than on Connamara, a previously unpublished composition by Edward Bunting (1773–1843), which was made available by Belfast's Queen's University library." * * * *
Review by Martin Chilton. Now in his list of best folk albums of 2015!
Donec "There are times when it seems like certain families got more than their fair share of musical genes, when a whole load of them can display talent of the highest order. So it is for the three sisters Nollaig Casey (vocals, fiddle, viola, tin whistle), Máire Ní Chathasaigh (Irish harp, piano, keyboards) and Mairéad Ní Chathasaigh (vocals, fiddle, tin whistle, low flute). All three are known for their outstanding work in their respective interpretations of Irish music and song, but this is their first recording as a band of sisters, accompanied by Arty McGlynn on guitar and Chris Newman on bass.
Máire has rightly been described as “the doyenne of Irish harp players”, taking the instrument in new directions and acting as a generational influence. Nollaig has sung and played fiddle solo and with more musicians than you could list on the back of a ream of envelopes. Mairéad is a singer whose depth of knowledge and understanding of the Irish traditions is peerless. And they all are award-winning multi-instrumentalists as well. Not bad going for one family!
They have been so busy with their individual careers that you maybe can understand why they’ve not got together before, but after listening to this release, the only question is: “what took you so long?” The album brings together traditional songs and tunes, with a six-part Bandonbridge Suite, co-authored by the three siblings to finish off the CD. This comes at the end of a stunning mixture of songs which are as clearly sung as any I’ve heard, and the playing throughout is a masterclass in allowing restraint in playing to demonstrate the complexities of the tunes.
The punning title is well-chosen, as there is no rivalry here, rather musical co-operation in which none dominates and all contribute evenly. A superb album."
"Now who had the brainwave to bring together these three musical sisters for an album of truly joyous music-making? … You’ll know the ladies individually, of course, as front-runners in their respective fields of musical endeavour: Nollaig Casey as fiddler and singer (she also plays viola and tin-whistle), Máire Ní Chathasaigh as harpist extraordinaire (also piano and keyboard player), and Máiread Ní Chathasaigh as singer and fiddler (who also plays tin-whistle and low flute). Unbelievably, the deliciously-titled Sibling Revelry is the sisters’ first recording together (mind you, they’ve all had busy and fruitful individual careers), and yet the teaming here reveals a further inspired level of musicianship that’s beyond the intuitive. They excel on their respective instruments, sure, but they also possess an innate grasp of internal dynamics (whereby felicities of balance are keenly observed) and an uncanny ability to listen to each other and respond in kind, rejoicing in spontaneity of expression.
The material chosen for this album is thoughtfully and impeccably arranged, and ideally sequenced for optimum listening pleasure. It comprises mainly instrumental items, with just three songs carefully interleaved; of these, two are sung by Mairéad and one by Nollaig, and both singers display both a constant purity of tone and an unassumingly accomplished clarity of diction. The instrumental repertoire is an enterprising selection of traditional tunes, largely from manuscript collections, with one by O’Carolan and one by Máire herself, while the ten-minute closing track, the six-part Bandonbridge Suite, has individual sections composed by individual sisters. Good use is made of the possibilities of both arrangement and studio facilities for imaginative presentation; sometimes, Nollaig doubles her fiddle parts or else creates a mini-string-section by adding the darker timbre of viola to the mix, while the colours of tin-whistle and low flute add further variety to five of the selections and Máire’s harpistry is as skilled and scintillating as ever. Arty McGlynn’s guitar accompanies deftly on three tracks, including the final movement of the Suite, and Chris Newman plays bass on one of the songs. Even so, one of the album’s standout tracks is Nollaig’s pindrop solo performance on her adaptation of Lament For General Monroe.
The entire album represents a glorious and wholly delectable celebration of expertise in sibling musicianship of the highest order, and proves a life-affirming experience, a joy from start to finish."
"The intriguingly titled ‘Sibling Revelry’, the debut album from the class act that is The Casey Sisters, exudes the highest levels of talented musicianship and without doubt manifest skill. The word ‘expressive’ could easily sum up this album as the sisters pour so much of themselves into the music it talks to the listener on so many levels. The lightest of airs rub shoulders with ‘soul-touching’ songs and ‘step-inducing’ dance tunes to conjure an experience that will simply sweep you away into its enveloping embrace.
From the first moments, with the entrancing energy of ‘The Humours Of Castlebernard/ From Shore To Shore’ through the soft gentleness of ‘Katherine O’More’ to the haunting ‘A Dhroimeann Donn Dílis’ this album will hold you rapt. Were it possible to pick favourites from this album because the whole is so good and everyone will find their own preferences, then for me the dramatic ‘Lament For General Monroe’, their wholly impressive take on ‘Dark Lochnagar’ and impressive expanse of the specially composed, six-part ‘The Bandonbridge Suite’ are the ones that I lean towards the most."
1. The Humours of Castlebernard / From Shore to Shore 2.58
A hornpipe from Francis O’Neill’s Music of Ireland and a reel from Ryan’s Mammoth Collection. O’Neill was from the parish of Caheragh in West Cork – where, incidentally, our father Seán also grew up – and many of his tune titles feature Cork placenames. The first tune celebrates the imposing Castlebernard (now ruined), situated in our home town of Bandon, Co. Cork.
Nollaig: fiddle Mairéad: fiddle Máire: piano
2. Katherine O’More 2.35
Composed by Turlough O’Carolan (1670 – 1738) on the occasion of the marriage of Katherine O’More of Ballyna House, Co. Kildare, to Charles O’Donnell of Co. Mayo, a great-great-grandson of Niall Garbh O’Donnell. The latter, a cousin of Red Hugh O’Donnell, though promised the Earldom of Tyrconnell both by Elizabeth I and by James I, ended his days in the Tower of London. In the associated poem Charles is dubbed the Hawk of the Erne and of Ballyshannon, in tribute to his descent from Niall Garbh.
A number of variants are to be found in various printed and manuscript sources. The version that we play here is an amalgam of the tune featured in Vol. III of Edward Bunting’s Ancient Music of Ireland as “The Hawk of Ballyshannon” and that noted by William Forde from Hugh O’Beirne and published by P. W. Joyce in Old Irish Folk Music and Songs.
Máire: harp Nollaig: fiddles, viola
3. A Dhroimeann Donn Dílis 3.45
An allegorical political song (probably eighteenth century) in which Ireland is personified as a loyal brown cow, the finest of her kind. Mairéad learned this song from our mother, Úna.
Mairéad: voice Máire: harp Nollaig: violins, viola
4. Slip Silver / The Surround 2.32
The first of these slip-jigs (from a MS collection) is untitled, so we’ve called it “Slip Silver”. The second was collected by Canon James Goodman (1828–1896), piper, Church of Ireland clergyman and Professor of Irish at Trinity College, Dublin, who spent most of his life in West Cork.
Nollaig: fiddle Mairéad: fiddle, tin-whistle Máire: harp
5. Connamara 2.54
We’re very grateful to the Library of Queen’s University, Belfast for permission to record this wonderful tune from the unpublished MSS of Edward Bunting. The title retains Bunting’s spelling.
Máire: harp Nollaig: fiddle, viola Mairéad: fiddle, low flute
6. Fan mar a bhfuil tú, a chladhaire (“Stay where you are, you rogue”) / 4.36
The House Keeper / Petticoat Loose
These jigs were collected by the great Canon James Goodman (1828–1896), piper, Church of Ireland Rector of Ardgroom, Beara, Co. Cork and later Canon of the Diocese of Ross in West Cork and Professor of Irish at Trinity College, Dublin.
Nollaig: fiddle Mairéad: fiddle, tin-whistle Máire: harp
7. Lament for General Monroe 3.40
Nollaig’s adaptation of a tune she found in an old family MS given to her many years ago by Ashley Wholihan, an accordeon player from Beara, Co. Cork.
8. The Men from Mallow / McCarthy’s Hornpipe 3.16
Both hornpipes are to be found in Francis O’Neill’s Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems. Mairéad first heard McCarthy’s Hornpipe played by Michael Hourihan of Dunmanway.
Mairéad: fiddle Nollaig: fiddle and harmony fiddle Máire: harp
9. The Bonnie Boy in Blue 3.30
Nollaig learned this song from our mother Úna, who is from Allihies, Beara, Co. Cork. She in turn learned it as a child from her mother Margaret Dwyer, who was from Scrahan, Urhan, Beara, Co. Cork.
Nollaig: voice, fiddles Máire: harp, keyboards (accordeon sound) Arty McGlynn: guitar Chris Newman: bass
10. Miss Fahey’s Fancy / I have no Money / Jerry Hayes 3.20
Three reels, again from Francis O’Neill’s Dance Music of Ireland: 1001 Gems.
Nollaig: fiddle Mairéad: fiddle Máire: harp Arty McGlynn: guitar
11. Dark Lochnagar 3.20
This setting of the poem by Lord Byron (in praise of Lochnagar in his native Aberdeenshire) to a beautiful Irish air, was collected by Cecil Sharp from John Murphy, an Irishman resident in the Marylebone Workhouse, London, in 1908, and published in the Journal of the Folk-Song Society, Vol. 5, No. 18 (1914). P.W. Joyce (1827 – 1914) published a variant in his Old Irish Folk Music and Songs that was popular in his youth on the borders of counties Limerick and Cork. The song has dropped out of the current repertoire in Ireland and the tune is now best known in the instrumental version (in a markedly different mode) recorded by the eminent piper, Willie Clancy. In Scotland the poem is still sung, but to a completely different melody.
Mairéad: voice Máire: keyboards
12. Harps in Bloom 2.26
Máire composed this tune in 2010 for the 25th anniversary of Cairde na Cruite’s Cúirt Chruitireachta (International Festival for Irish Harp), held annually in Termonfeckin, Co. Louth.
Máire: harp Nollaig: fiddle, viola Mairéad: fiddle, tin-whistle
13. The Mealagh Valley Polkas 2.51
The Mealagh Valley is near Bantry, Co. Cork. Mairéad learned these tunes from concertina-player Mary Tisdall from Bantry. They are played in what is commonly called a "Sliabh Luachra" style, but which is in fact native to all of West Cork.
Mairéad: fiddle Nollaig: fiddle Máire: harp
14. The Bandonbridge Suite:
This specially-composed Suite - a musical representation of the history of the town of Bandon - was premièred at the 2014 Harp Weekend at Bandon Walled Town Festival.
a) Dreams of Castlemahon – composed by Máire 2.29
Castlemahon was the seat of the chieftains of the O'Mahony clan, who controlled large tracts of land in the area before the Munster Plantation (which from 1586 onwards entailed the confiscation of land by the English crown and its colonisation with British settlers) and subsequent foundation of the town of Bandon in 1604. The ruins of the castle lie just outside the town, adjacent to those of Castle Bernard, the planter-built edifice that replaced it.
The slow air is arguably the oldest style of music in the surviving oral Irish tradition."Dreams of Castlemahon" is written in the style of a slow air, intended to evoke the pre-Plantation era when the area that is now Bandon was entirely Gaelic.
b) The Bandon River Flows – composed by Nollaig 2.31
Nollaig: fiddles, tin-whistle Máire: harp
The River Bandon is the one constant that connects the town's past, present and future.
c) The Earl of Cork’s Allemand – composed by Máire and Nollaig 1.37
Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Cork (1566 - 1643), came to Ireland in 1588 after his studies in Cambridge and the Middle Temple and prospered exceedingly: "his acquaintance with government officials gave him an opportunity of purchasing at nominal prices some of the vast confiscated estates of the Irish chieftains". * In 1621 he embarked on the purchase of the town of Bandon from the first planters and by 1625 had acquired the whole town. He is said to have spent £14,000 on beautifying, walling and fortifying it, founding industries and importing English settlers. He has been described as "England's first colonial millionaire" and Bandon was only one of his "model towns". He maintained a permanent band of up to six musicians at his principal seat, Lismore Castle and patronised musicians elsewhere too. According to the Lismore Papers, 5s was paid to "the Musitions at Bandon" on 8 Ocbober 1618. "Boyle aspired to create in Ireland an estate modelled physically and culturally on the finest English examples of his day... it must be assumed, in the absence of more concrete evidence, that the music played by these musicians would largely have reflected practices in England." **
Composers in Elizabethan and early Jacobean England wrote many "almans" or allemands", the "alman" or "allemand" being a popular dance at the time. For the reasons given above we think it highly likely that allemands would have featured in the repertoire of the 1st Earl of Cork's band of musicians. We have therefore composed a new allemand in the style of the period and named it after the earl.
* A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878
** Barra Boydell: 'The Earl of Cork's musicians: a study in the patronage of music in early seventeenth century Anglo-Irish society', Records of Early English Drama, volume 18, number 2 (1993)
Nollaig: fiddles Máire: harp
d) The March from Irishtown ·– composed by Máire 2.07
No "mere Irish" were allowed to live in the town for a long period after its foundation and a settlement named "Irishtown" therefore grew up outside the walls.
It is said that the following verse was inscribed on the gates of Bandon: "Turk, Jew or atheist, may enter here, but not a Papist" and that a local wag added the comment: "The man who wrote this wrote it well, for the same is written on the gates of hell!"
Gradually the regulations were relaxed and the descendants of the "mere Irish" moved into the town proper, eventually becoming the majority - the slow "March from Irishtown".
Máire: harp Nollaig: fiddles Mairéad: tin-whistle
e) The Bandonbridge Hornpipe – composed by Mairéad 1.43
The building of the stone bridge was crucial to the development of Bandon and the town itself was named Bandonbridge for a large part of its existence. The current townspeople are great bridge-builders and have created a remarkably united place where ecumenism is not merely a pious hope but a daily reality.
Mairéad: fiddle Nollaig: fiddle and harmony fiddles Máire: harp
f) The Gates are Open – composed by Nollaig 1.25
"The Gates are Open" is a celebration of a Bandon that is now an outward-looking and multi-cultural place, proud of its history but welcoming of all.
Nollaig: fiddle Mairéad: fiddle Máire: harp Arty McGlynn: guitar