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“The Celtic Lute”
Turlough O’Carolan: Carolan’s Welcome – Carolan’s Dream – Sheebeg and Sheemore – Miss Noble – Fanny Power – Lady Atherny – The Seas are Deep – Tune Without Title (#172) – Blind Mary – George Brabazon – Separation of the Body and Soul
Traditional (Irish): Banish Misfortune – Pipe on the Hob – Cliffs of Moher – The Monaghan Jig – The Kid on the Mountain – The Butterfly
Traditional (Scottish): The Battle of Harlaw (trans. R. McFarlane) – Hey My Nanny & Guzzle Together – The Flaggon – The Stool of Repentance – The Lone Vale – Flee Over the Water – Hoop Her and Gird Her – If I Had a Bonny Lass
James Oswald: The Flowers of Edinburgh

Ronn McFarlane (Celtic lute)
Recording: Sono Luminus Studios, Boyce, Virginia (June 27-30, 2017) – 55’59
Sono Luminus DSL-92225 – Booklet in English

For over 40 years Ronn McFarlane has devoted his career to the magical beauty of the Celtic lute. A founding member of The Baltimore Consort, the West Virginia native taps into his own ancestry…we experience his own poetic disquisition.

“The Celtic Lute” is Mr. McFarlane’s watershed moment: we turn back to the 1700s and The Balcarres Lute Book, the source of structure for this new album and the first recording for him in over a decade…all selections have been personally arranged. Drawing from a prolific repertory of Scottish tunes [for lute], Irish tunes had a different dimension: they’re the musical antithesis since no repository for lute existed. For that counterbalance, Ronn McFarlane ventured into the land of blind harpist Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738) and his 200+ planxtys writings for inspiration.

But it’s the segmentation that’s the key and compelling point to consider when listening to “The Celtic Lute”: if the Irish Sea blocks two cultures, then Celtic music is the bridge to their unity and their charm. Although 26 tracks are presented, Ronn McFarlane has created eight (8) sub-bracketed quasi-musical tableaux which take on their own sense of rhythmic pulse and personality. Positioning of these ballads and jigs is a fairytale-like painting of conscientious energy and individualized character...

...And here...the reviewer’s own titles: “an Irish preamble” (tracks 1-2), “the sassy” (tracks 3-6), "O'Carolan's reverie" (tracks 7-8), “the diminutive” (tracks 9-13) [“The Stool of Repentance”… a stylized adjunct cabaletta], “the Scottish realm” (tracks 14-17), “romantic heft” (tracks 18-20), “the child at heart” (tracks 21-22) and “soft reflections” (tracks 23-26.)

“Emphasized expression makes exercised impression.” Ronn McFarlane has the strength of heart, knows the beat of the Celtic soul, both past and present. This spotless Sono Luminus recording is a coruscating delight.

Christie Grimstad




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