" The Master's Touch"
CD ARCD 027
Sean Maguire and fiddle playing have been synonymous in Irish music over the past half-century. During that time, his personal fiddle style became renowned for exciting and flamboyant playing, Imaginative tune settings with intricate variations, and technical mastery. Sean's full- bodied fiddle tone and unmistakable virtuoso playing carry the hallmarks of supreme musicianship and have attracted legions of loyal admirers, and many imitators. Sean is recognized as a fiddle player of outstanding talent in Irish traditional music. Over the past half-century, the unmistakable 'Maguire Style' has become associated with flamboyance, imaginative tune setting and intricate variations played with breath-taking dash and flair. Sean's highly-devoted technique and complete mastery of the fiddle afforded him the ability to play the most demanding pieces in the dance music repertoire. On this reissue album a collection of classic set dances including The Garden of Daisies, Madame Bonaparte, and St. Patrick's Day are played in the maestro's inimitable style.
The origins of Sean's music can be traced back to his father, John Maguire, who was born in Mullaghoran, Co. Cavan This area was admired for its rich traditions with singers, melodeon players, fiddlers and flute players. As in other counties in the province of Ulster, Cavan had a strong marching band tradition which provided a training ground for numerous fife, whistle, and flute players and these were John Maguire's first instruments. During the 1920's John moved to Belfast and married an Antrim girl. They settled in Dunmore Street off the Springfield Road where Sean was born in 1927.The Maguire home was well known for music sessions and Sean grew up listening to Irish music played by Belfast's finest musicians. At the age of Thirteen Sean's father decided that his son's talent for music should be encouraged and violin lessons were arranged with a local music teacher. The young music student later graduated to lessons with Madame May Nesbitt who developed his tone production, technique, and bow control. Not content with mastering the fiddle, Sean learned the most complex of Irish instruments, the uilleann pipes, and in later years he also learned to play the guitar, tin whistle and piano.
Sean's early stage performances were at ceili dances with his father in the famed Malachy Sweeny Ceili Band but success as a soloist in the Oireachtas brought the aspirins young fiddle player to national attention. A recording of Sean's prize-winning performance at the Oireactas fiddle competition in Dublin in October 1949 survives in the Radio Eireann archives and provides an insight into the adjudicator's unprecedented marks on that occasion and allows us to hear Sean's highly developed fiddle playing at the age of twenty-four. Competition success brought Sean to the attention of the record companies and his impressive recording career began with a 78rpm vinyl disc made for the ill-fated Irish Recording Company and for HMV in Dublin in 1956.
This reissue comes from those times and features a collection of set dances which Sean recorded in Dublin with Eili Ni Mharcaigh. They have been digitally re-mastered and you would think they were only recorded yesterday.
The set dance is a stately dance rhythm played at a medium pace in 4/4 or common time although it was also occasionally performed in jig time. The form is very similar to the hornpipe but they differ in there second parts where the set dance is half as long again as the hornpipe- twelve bars are played in the second part of the set dance as opposed to the eight corresponding bars in the hornpipe.
The medium pace of the set dance was ideally suited as an exhibition piece and the form became popular as a show-case to demonstrate the skills of virtuoso dancers and musicians. Many of the classic set dances were composed in the mid -18th and early 19th centuries during the golden age of the dancing master. The Blackbird, for instance, which Sean plays on track 3, can be traced back to 1750. Some set dances recall major events of those times; Rodney's Glory for example commemorates the navel victory of Admiral George Rodney over the French fleet in the West Indies in April 1782, and , Madame Bonaparte is one of many dance tunes which recall the Nepoleonic era and its musical links with Ireland.
Other set dances included in this collection of "The Masters Touch" such as Jockey to the Fair, The garden of Daisies, and The Hunt have lost their historic significance for us today but are nonetheless a fascinating part of the Irish folk music repertoire.
The Track List is
1. The Garden of Daisies 2. The Hurling Boys 3. The Blackbird 4. The Kilkenny Races 5. Jockey to the Fair 6. Humors of Bandon 7. King of the Fairies 8. The Three Sea Captains 9. The Hunt 10. St. Patrick's Day 11. Rodney's Glory 12. Madame Bonaparte 13. The Lodge Road
Sit back relax and listen to the master at work
"An Album to Treasure Forever"