Three modern orchestral composers from Ireland who immediately spring to mind are Phil Coulter, Bill Whelan and Shaun Davey. Each have a background with traditional ‘folk’ links and it is possibly Davey who stands out for grand gestures when it comes to orchestration. For his latest project he has travelled to Romania in search of inspiration. Being of sound mind, Davey’s (some would say) off kilter approach to subject matter, in this case a cemetery in the village of Sapanta bordering the Ukraine is also known as The Merry Cemetery due to its decoratively festooned wooden crosses accompanied by poems describing a celebration of the life of the departed. Pathos is the nearest we get to any maudlin thoughts and it has to be said the Romanian spirit regarding death is in most cases truly uplifting and possibly, akin with their Irish counterparts this is the nearest we might get to a ‘wake’. Of course, no Shaun Davey recording would be complete without vocal contributions from his wife Rita Connolly and amongst other musicians his Uilleann piper of choice Liam O’Flynn, Gerry O’Beirne (guitar) and Noel Eccles on percussion. The music on the recording is inspiring and more often than not all the more charming for its idiosyncrasies. I’ve always thought that in death, however painful, a loved one’s life can be celebrated and personally speaking, if I had a choice I’d certainly like to be remembered this way. PETE FYFE
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