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9.5.14

Briefly Noted: Tarik O'Regan

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T. O'Regan Acallam na Senórach (An Irish Colloquy), National Chamber Choir of Ireland, S. French, P. Hillier
(Harmonia Mundi, 2011)
British composer Tarik O'Regan's family is a decidedly contemporary mixture of North African and Irish heritage. Like the Scottish composer James MacMillan, O'Regan's music occasionally trades on folk music elements that seem Celtic, but in his hour-long Acallam na Senórach, a setting of parts of the 12th-century Middle-Irish poem that is part of the Fenian Cycle, he doubles down on the Irish. In the poem, St. Patrick travels around Ireland, hearing the tales told by two veteran Irish warriors. O'Regan made a selection from the tales, using some original texts in Middle Irish, but with most of the text in English translation. The musical style of the piece is a far cry from the contrapuntal and multi-textual complexity of Scattered Rhymes. This is a more austere score, with lots of meditative homophony (sung with clarity by the National Chamber Choir of Ireland) and an evocative accompaniment by guitar (played by Stewart French), which O'Regan thought of as a tribute to the other side of his family, meant to sound like an Irish instrument that might have been related to a Middle Eastern one. This may not be a great work or anything, but O'Regan is a composer worth getting to know, not least because Paul Hillier and other conductors have championed him.

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