Written and recorded by brothers Mychael & Jeff Danna between their other scoring projects, A Celtic Tale is the soundtrack to an imaginary film of the Irish legend of Deirdre. Both the album and the legend reflect many aspects of love and sorrow. The Danna brothers mix Celtic folk, symphonic, and ambient music into a distinctive and fitting setting for Deirdre's star-crossed story. Though she is betrothed to a king, Deirdre finds her true love; she and her lover are exiled. When they try to return to their land, Deirdre's lover is killed, and she is imprisoned by the king she was to marry. Love and war blend in Deirdre's story; similarly, the music combines authentic Celtic instruments such as fiddle, tin whistle, flute, uilleann and highland pipes, and wire-strung harp with orchestral power and electronic atmospherics. Both listenable and powerful, A Celtic Tale showcases the Dannas' skill for creating emotionally accessible, technically beautiful music.
This is not such a bizarre cross-over as one might imagine for in the 18th century the great Irish musician Turlough O’Carolan, a blind harpist, met the Italian musician Geminiani in Dublin, and through him encountered the music of, yes, guess who, Antonio Vivaldi. So here we have a case of substituting Irish instruments for baroque ones, using baroque instruments to accompany Irish themes, by creating dialogues between Celtic and baroque instruments, or by letting all the musicians improvise. One moment we appear to be listening to a ‘straight’ baroque concerto, then all of a sudden the conventional string continuo/ripieno of the baroque ensemble (Le Orfanelle della Pieta) gives way to celtic musicians playing a jig or reel on anything from a Irish bouzouki to a fiddle. The baroque group consists of three each of first and second violins, one viola, two cellos, a bass and harpsichord while the Irish musicians play Irish fiddle, an Irish flute (like a baroque flute), tin and low whistles, Uileann pipes, Irish bouzouki, mandolins, bodhran, bones, and the Celtic harp (played here with metal strings to resemble its harpsichord counterpart in the other group).
The Old Grey Whistle Test was launched on 21st September 1971 from a tiny studio tucked behind a lift shaft on the fourth floor of BBC Television Centre. From humble beginnings it has gone on to provide some of the best and most treasured music archive that the BBC has to offer. This programme takes us on a journey and celebrates the musically mixed-up decade that was the 1970s and which is reflected in the OGWT archive.