Gems in the shadow of the Black­stairs

PICK OF THE WEEK

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - | MUSIC REVIEWS - Cor­mac Larkin

BAR­ROW RIVER ARTS FES­TI­VAL

The Bar­row River Arts Fes­ti­val in Bor­ris House, Co Carlow, is a hid­den gem of the spring mu­sic cal­en­dar, a qui­etly au­gust gath­er­ing of mu­si­cians, lured into the Black­stairs moun­tains by Swiss baroque vi­o­lin­ist Maya Hom­burger and leg­endary UK free jazz bassist Barry Guy. The hus­band-and-wife team are fre­quent vis­i­tors to the south­east, and their bou­tique fes­ti­val, in the stately sur­round­ings of Bor­ris House – an­ces­tral home of the MacMur­rough Ka­vanghs, who are still in res­i­dence – is a de­fi­antly per­sonal and eclec­tic three days of mu­si­cal open­mind­ed­ness, pre­sent­ing early mu­sic, con­tem­po­rary clas­si­cal, spo­ken word and free jazz cheek by jowl.

The fes­ti­val opens with Songs from the Mediter­ranean (Fri­day, 8pm), fea­tur­ing the renowned Greek vo­cal­ist and ECM artist Sav­ina Yan­na­tou, whose dar­ing ap­proach fuses eastern and western in­flu­ences, cov­er­ing ev­ery­thing from early Greek folk songs to the in­ter­na­tional avant garde. She is joined by Dublin­based multi-in­stru­men­tal­ist Francesco Tur­risi, who also cov­ers the early mu­sic-meets- im­prov wa­ter­front, along with the vastly ex­pe­ri­enced Barry Guy on bass.

The SAI Trio (Sat­ur­day, 3pm) ex­plores the ter­rain link­ing tra­di­tional dance and free im­prov, with in­no­va­tive Fla­menco dancer Sò­nia Sánchez, Cata­lan pi­anist Au­gustí Fernán­dez and jazz per­cus­sion­ist Ivo Sans. Ir­ish gui­tarist and com­poser Ben­jamin Dwyer and so­prano Sylvia O’Brien (Sat­ur­day, 5pm) present the world pre­miere of the gui­tarist’s new work, So­bre los Án­ge­les, based on the words of Span­ish poet Rafael Al­berti, while Guy’s own Be­yond trio (Sat­ur­day, 8pm) is the clos­est the fes­ti­val comes to pure jazz, fea­tur­ing com­po­si­tions by Swiss sax­o­phon­ist Jürg Wick­i­halder.

Cam­er­ata Kilkenny (Sun­day, 3pm), the cham­ber group founded by Hom­burger and Kilkenny harp­si­chordist Malcolm Proud, open the last day of the fes­ti­val with a con­cert that matches se­lect Arias from Bach Can­tatas to Swedish folk songs, per­formed by Swedish Baroque spe­cial­ist so­prano Maria Keo­hane. Cel­e­brated Beck­ett spe­cial­ist Barry Mc­Gov­ern gives a read­ing from the great writer’s plays and poems (Sun­day, 5pm) and the fes­ti­val closes with a per­for­mance of Mozart, Sch­nit­tke and Schu­mann from English vi­o­lin­ist Priya Mitchell with pi­anist Polina Leschenko (Sun­day, 7pm).

With art and crafts ex­hi­bi­tions, a Swiss Sausage sup­per on Sat­ur­day evening, and in­for­mal op­por­tu­ni­ties to meet the per­form­ers, not to men­tion to con­sid­er­able charms of Bor­ris town, the Bar­row val­ley and the Black­stairs moun­tains, there are many, in­fin­itely worse ways to spend a Spring week­end. For more, see bar­rowriver­arts­fes­ti­val.com.

A de­fi­antly per­sonal and eclec­tic three days of mu­si­cal open-mind­ed­ness, pre­sent­ing early mu­sic, con­tem­po­rary clas­si­cal, spo­ken word and free jazz

Sav­ina Yan­na­tou

East meets west

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