The arc of the bow and the delicate musicality of the four fiddle strings are celebrated with a rare mix of virtuosity and sheer joie de vivre on 3. Ciarán Ó Maonaigh and Aidan O’Donnell already sizzled on their 2008 duo debut, Fidil. Now, just 18 months later, they’ve morphed their debut CD title to herald the arrival of a fiddling trio, with fellow Donegal player Damien McGeehan joining their ranks.
Fiddle trios are a rare sighting in the traditional music firmament, and Fidil have carved a niche. Their sound soars with a confidence born of an intense love affair with their Donegal inheritance. The highlands set,
The Laddie With the Pladdie, epitomises the rootedness of Fidil’s music, its accent clearly defining the shape of the tunes. Yet the interplay of the three fiddlers’ personalities propels it into the present, where they can make it their own, as they might turn a piece of long-cherished wood on a lathe.
However, this is no straight-up collection for traditional music lovers. Fidil’s reading of the
descriptive piece, The Hunt of the
Hound and the Hare, could be a masterclass in the avant-garde, with its bold and sassy excavation of the excitement and terror of the hunt, animated by an indelible curiosity about the experience of both hunter and hunted. Even a well-worn reel such as The Pigeon
at the Gate is invigorated by the pirouetting interplay of the three fiddles.
Here is a place where strings are plucked and caressed, tickled and swept into fresh air by three exceptional and ambitious musicians who still cosset the music of their home place with unyielding affection. 3 is a masterclass in the marriage of tradition and musical exploration, and a milestone in traditional music. www.fidilmusic.com
Fiddlers 3: Damien McGeehan, Aidan O’Donnell and Ciarán Ó Maonaigh
3 Claddagh Records