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BMG Music presents

James Galway and The Chieftains—In Ireland (1991)

"We've met Jimmy before, and never failed to hit it off with him."- Martin Fay

Stars: James Galway, Paddy Molony, Derek Bell, Matt Malloy, Kevin Conneff, Martin Fay, Se·n Keane
Director: Alan Tongue

Manufacturer: Sonopress
MPAA Rating: Not RatedRun Time: 00h:59m:06s
Release Date: 2001-06-05
Genre: celtic

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ A-C+B- B+


DVD Review

During my time as a reviewer for this site, I have had the opportunity to request titles for review, and to date I have so far been the recipient of no less than four Chieftains' DVDs. Contrary to what my associates at dOc may believe as a result of this, I would not consider myself an avid fan of Chieftains music per se, as their CDs only number two in my collection. I do however, much enjoy watching these gentlemen perform, and perhaps even more so, hearing the stories they tell about their music. The personalities in this band are extremely engaging, and once again I found myself at the end off the disc feeling time had flown by.

For this 1986 recording, The Chieftains (Paddy Molony - uilleann pipes, tin whistle, Derek Bell - harp, piano, harpsichord, hammer dulcimer, Matt Malloy - flute, Kevin Conneff - bodhr·n, vocals, Martin Fay - fiddle and Sean Ke·ne - fiddle) are joined by Irish flautist James Galway, who I'll admit to having only a passing knowledge of prior to viewing this disc. Derek Bell describes why Galway may be the best flautist in modern times in one section of the disc, and the preceeding and subsequent performances bear weight to his assertions. Galway is a master not only in terms of technical virtuosity, but the range of tone and expression he is able to deliver is simply wonderful. His performance, like most true artisans, is without any sense of the difficulty involvedóhe makes it look easy.

One of the challenges of uniting a classically trained artist such as Galway with a traditional band who has been performing together for decades, is trying to communicate the subtleties that become habitual in a long working relationship, and which cannot be commited to manuscript. In this video, we join Galway and The Chieftains as they rehearse, record and perform in front of an audience, during the making of the album not surprisingly titled James Galway and The Chieftains—In Ireland. As I have found with the previous discs I have reviewed of this group, this is another interesting journey, as well as being highly entertaining and educational. One segment highlights the differences between the modern instrument Galway plays, and the more traditional instrument Chieftains flautist Matt Malloy plays, while others demonstrate the process of translating and correlating the written score with the aural experience.

The footage on this disc is very casual in nature, with the easy going, yet serious nature of the recording sessions brought to light, as the band and their guest perform live in the studio. We also see them in less formal surroundings, at the neighborhood pub sampling Ireland's finest, and on stage at the Grand Opera House in Belfast. Among the numbers performed are The Humours of Kilfenora; The independent, Up and About, a set of Turlough Carolan tunes in Fanny Power, Mabel Kelly and Carolan's Concerto. Avondale, Crowley's Reel, Carrickfergus, Give Me Your Hand (Tabhair dom ho Lamh) and Danny Boy round out the performances. While the music is at the heart of this video, it is what ties it together that makes it worthy in my eyes. Here we have a collection of the some of the best in their craft, doing what they love. What more could you ask for?

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: James Galway and The Chieftains In Ireland is presented in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Video quality isn't outstanding as this was shot on tape, it does not have the same look or definition as film, and being from the mid 1980s, the age does show. There is the occasional dropout, colors are good, though contrast varies depending on the location. The live sequences never seem to hit true black, and have a noisy appearance, but for what this is, it is quite acceptable.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital

Audio Transfer Review: We have both a stereo recording and a 5.1 mix. As this was shot in both concert and studio locations with lots of open microphones, the ambient noise is fairly audible most of the time. While the band is performing instrument clarity and separation are excellent, with a tonal range favoring the high end over deep bass, though there is no lack of bottom when Kevin Conneff's bodhr·n kicks in for some of these recordings. Interview audio is fine, though here again the ambient noise levels are fairly pronounced. Still, for the documentary that this is, it presents its subject matter quite well, despite being less refined than we might be accustomed to.

Audio Transfer Grade: B- 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Music/Song Access with 11 cues and remote access
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Discography
Extras Review: A limited discography featuring 13 album covers with catalogue numbers is the lone supplement other than a listing for a website. The song selection menus feature full motion inserts with background music.

Extras Grade: B+

Final Comments

While the presentation is not up to par with some of the other Chieftains' DVDs, the content certainly makes up for it, with a very informative and fun time visiting with the boys and their guest James Galway. Even for those who don't find celtic music to be their favorite style, the behind-the-scenes footage and watching these men perform is a worthy experience. I encourage all to at least take for a test drive, don't cha know.

Jeff Ulmer 2001-07-20