(27 February 2000) The Irish choral group
Anúna are well known for
the soprano vocalists they have produced over the years—Eimear Quinn
won Eurovision with "The Voice" in 1996. Méav Ni Mhaolchatha—also
from Anúna—gained international attention with the group as a
featured soloist performing in the London and US productions of
Riverdance and on their albums. Eimear and Méav
are the dominant soloists on
Omnis and are the two women in the centre of this 1996 Anúna
Entitled Méav (Hearts O' Space (USA)
11098-2, 2000), her debut album reveals an
effortless mastery of Celtic and classical pieces,
traditional songs and early music. Méav's
crystalline soprano voice is perfectly accompanied by
contemporary and elegant instrumental arrangements.
The album's repertoire consists of twelve relatively well-known
compositions. "Ailein Duinn" (theme from the motion picture Rob
Roy) originally performed by Capercaillie's
Karen Matheson is sung wonderfully and sensitively in Gaelic
and backed with lovely instrumentation. The flute part is incredible.
Méav's stunning soprano rendition
of "I Dreamt I Dwelt In Marble Halls" originally written by Michael
Balfe in 1843 for his opera The Bohemian Girl
pales Enya's version on Shepherd Moons. David Downes'
rich arrangement of "She Moved Through The Fair" with additional
vocals and orchestra perfectly suits Méav's vocal performance.
Mark Armstrong's arrangement of "I'm A Doun" with similar textures
provides a contrast to Vanessa Mae's 1996 recording.
The classic "Solveig's Song" was written by Greig in 1876.
Méav writes about the calling vocalise within the track, "I love
the ethereal wordless melody that forms its chorus." Crystalline
solo vocals over light acoustic guitar and violin are joined by
whistle in the Irish classic "I Wish My Love Was A Red, Red Rose"
and by traditional drums and additional backing vocals in "Si do
Méav's sublimely clear vocals dominate the modern ballad "Since
You and I Were True" as well as in the traditional of "The Death of
Queen Jane" written for the court of King Henry VII in the early
1500s. Listen for the harpsichord and the flute in the instrumental
bridge. The sensitive vocals for the soft lullaby "Close Your Eyes"
are accompanied by lovely violin and harp performances. A stunning
a capella performance is used to introduce "One I Love"; vocals are
lightly multi-tracked during the song's choruses and only the
very slightest instrumentation backs it in parts. The album closes
with the track "Celtic Prayer." Soaring vocals are combined with a
grand instrumental arranged to passes the melody from instrument to
instrument, certain to entrall a broad audiences.
You can order Méav's album via amazon.com
here. Méav's self-titled debut is clearly one of the best heavenly
vocal albums we have heard in a long time and with stunning crystalline
vocal renditions of well-known compositions, it is worth a long distance
journey and significant further exploration. Now released in the USA and
other territories, it is definitely a must listen!