Carolan’s Receipt Derek Bell, harp, is available from Shanachie Entertainment (www.shanachie.com), 13 Laight Street, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10013, CD# 79013, $15.99.

Turlogh O’Carolan, an itinerant harper blinded by smallpox at age 18, has been called ‘Ireland’s National Composer.’ As Ireland had a long tradition of blind harpists, his first patron, Mrs. MacDermott Roe, apprenticed Carolan to a harper for three years. Provided with a horse, harp, and guide, Carolan wrote his first tune, ‘Sheebeg and Sheemore’, on the way to his patron’s house.

Influenced by Vivaldi, Corelli, and Geminiani, Carolan’s music builds a bridge between the folk melodies of Ireland and the classical traditions of the baroque era. His legacy is a body of work that is distinctly Irish yet truly international.

Derek Bell, former harper for The Chieftains, plays tiompán, the wire-strung Irish harp, and neo-Irish harp on the first CD entirely devoted to Carolan’s music,
Carolan’s Receipt. Bell opens, fittingly, with Carolan’s first composition, ‘Sheemore’, an infectiously charming piece based on an ancient folk legend about warring fairy tribes. Equally fitting, Bell concludes his performance with the composer’s last work, ‘Carolan’s Farewell to Music’, a haunting lament also written at the house of Mrs. MacDermott Roe, where Carolan returned to die in 1738.

During his career, Turlogh O’Carolan wrote more than 200 pieces that run the gamut of musical moods from light-hearted jigs to exquisitely contemplative compositions. Carolan’s Receipt includes 15 of the blind composer’s finest works, each performed with vitality and grace.

Carolan’s Receipt offers modern listeners a rare opportunity to experience the musical outpouring of baroque Ireland. This is truly a compelling collection that no Celtic music enthusiast should be without.

Anita Frullani