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Eileen Ivers: An Nollaig (An Irish Christmas)
Artists: Eileen Ivers (fiddle) with James Riley, Tommy McDonnell, Isaac Alderson, Leo Traversa, Greg Anderson, Ben Wittman, Adam Posluszny, Susan McKeown, Melissa Pinglora, Brittney Watson, Leo Huppert, Vaneese Thomas, Angela Clemmons, Diane Gunnip and Dennis Collins
Compass Records (2007) 7-4467-2
11 Tracks
Running Time: 44 minutes
Eileen Ivers and her group of musicians has come forth with a collection of holiday music and a distinct Celtic flavor. Ivers, a nine-time All-Ireland Fiddle Champion, has performed with Riverdance, The London Symphony Orchestra, The Boston Pops, The Chieftains and Hall and Oates. Her rich fiddle style is unique and brings melodies to full flavor. The selections on this CD range from “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” to "The Time Is Approaching,” “Do You Hear What I Hear?” and “O Holy Night.”
Stand-outs on the CD are “The Wexford Carol” with a male tenor soloist who is not identified. The arrangement alternates between fiddle and vocalist to give new meaning to this popular carol. “The Time Is Approaching” is arranged by Eileen Ivers from a Danish winter song composed by Oluf Ring. The violin is full bodied, rich and one gets the idea of wind, snow and countryside. “Do You Hear What I Hear?” (also arranged by Ivers) once again flows well between vocalist and violin. It's like changing hands in a dance. You know just when the other person will be there.
Track number five, J. S. Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” has a small vocal ensemble that you just cannot hear and the vocalists don’t blend with the instrumentalists. That is unfortunate, as the rest of this CD offers a mixture of familiar and lesser known holiday music that are well-blended and eloquent.  
On the positive side, “One Night In Bethlehem” (arr. by Ivers) has female soloist Susan McKeown, accompanied by guitar and violin. It is a lovely arrangement with the singer and instruments meshing well. “Apples in Winter/Frost Is All Over/A Merry Christmas” are three jigs with a lively tempo. Of the three, the first, “Apples in Winter” is the best. “Christmas Time Is Here” is the familiar tune from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and gives fiddler Eileen Ivers a chance to bring poignancy to the melody. The last selection, Ivers violin solo on “O Holy Night” is warm, rich and just the thing to end the CD on a quiet, peaceful mood.
Copyright 2007 Marie Asner
Submitted 11/30/07

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