"Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, Catherine McEvoy and Mícheál Ó Raghallaigh", Siobhán Long, The Irish Times, Friday, January 25th, 2008|
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On a tour billed as 'Horsehair, Wind and Reeds', Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh led this merry trio on a fleet-footed foray through vast meadows, indeed prairies of tunes, his fiddle often leading, sometimes following, and occasionally refraining from joining the melee. He's an experimentalist whose feet are firmly rooted in a deep love of tradition, and so his utter reinvention of Peadar Ó Riada's An Draigheann was a revelation of both restraint and innovation, eking and stretching the core of the tune to fleetingly reveal its delicate underbelly, as if it were a Turner painting peeping out from under its layered protection into the weak light of January.
Catherine McEvoy's gorgeously rhythmic flute style was the ideal counter to Ó Raghallaigh's fiddle, and Mícheaál Ó Raghallaigh's concertina brought a magnificently deep and throaty quality to the tunes.
Amid countless nameless tunes that featured slides, reels and a lovely version of O'Sullivan's March (borrowed from Breanndán Begley's knapsack), the three ebbed and flowed, shimmied and slid through a repertoire that reeked of an experiment rapidly fermenting into something special.
McEvoy's choice of the slow air, Sliabh Geal gCua na Féile was the perfect base from which to bend and embellish notes, her phrasing indelibly rooted in a Sligo style, yet refreshingly free of any hint of predictability.
Mícheál Ó Raghallaigh embarded on a lengthy solo that navigated its way through a lovely four-part version of the jig, Apples in Winter, as well as The Humours of Ballyconnell, before abruptly coming to a halt due to an unexpected technical difficulty with his concertina.
His playing is ever inventive and lithe, although this solo set stretched just a tune too long and antennae were flagging by the time it ground to a premature stop.
As a snapshot of Music Network's MusicWide strand of work, this trio of musicians were the idea showcase: individually accomplished and collectively hugely engaged, they seemed to revel in the chance to test and taste of one another's music.
With further nights on tour, there's a suspicion that their set list would continue to evolve as they wend their way across the country.