The Piper's Call

Liam O'Flynn


When Liam O'Flynn recorded his album The Piper's Call he got together with Emmy winning director Philip King and Nuala O'Connor of Hummingbird Productions to capture, on film, not only the music from The Piper's Call but also an insight into Liam and his musical background. The results are so visually stunning that Tara Music has released a specially extended version of this television documentary on DVD.

"Laoi na Pibe (The Irish language version of The Piper's Call television documentary) looks at the life, work and music of Liam O'Flynn, one of Ireland's outstanding musicians.
We saw Liam playing on his own, with traditional musicians, rock musicians and orchestra. So skilled is he, that he made the pipes sound as if they had been invented for each and every musical genre he visited.

It is extraordinary how the pipes, when played as beautifully as they are by Liam, captivate all who hear them. Musicians from all sorts of traditions find they can fit the pipes easily into their work.

This hour-long programme portrait of Liam O'Flynn was too short by half. I must say, that as we become swamped by more and more incredibly bad television stations RTE and TG4 fly the flag when they transmit programmes like this.
Paddy Murray - The Sunday Tribune

''The Piper's Call' DVD includes all the music from The Piper's Call album, being performed by a selection of Ireland's top musicians including Arty McGlynn (guitar), Steve Cooney (guitar), Rod McVey (keyboards) and Liam Bradley (percussion) who together provide a perfect setting for Liam's piping on tracks such as 'The Humours of Kiltyclogher', 'Miss Admiral Gordon's Strathspey ' and 'The Humours of Carrigaholt Set'. The DVD also includes a special bonus track, of Danish origin, "Poul Pejsen" which was not included on the The Piper's Call album.

The Piper's Call Band photoLiam is also joined by guest musicians, Sean Keane whose virtuoso fiddle playing is included on a number of tracks and on ''The Gold Ring' his playing is particularly memorable. On 'The Drunken Landlady / McKenna's Reels' Liam and Sean are joined by another old friend Matt Molloy. For the 'An Droichead' (The Bridge), track Liam is joined by the incomparable Mark Knopfler on guitar which serves to make this track one of the highlights of the recording. Top Galician piper Carlos Núñez joins Liam for 'Muiñeira de Poio / Muiñeira de Ourense' while another track with Carlos 'Marcha de Breixo / Marcha de Lousame' is used as the theme music for the credits. The final ingredient on this superb album is the version of 'Bean Dubh a Ghleanna' with The Irish Chamber Orchestra arranged and conducted by Micheál O'Súilleabháin.

The DVD also has a 30 mins section of interviews with Liam, Liam O'Flynn Snr., Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, Mark Knopfler and Carlos Núñez. During these interviews Liam also performs a number of additional solo piping pieces.

This 90 minute DVD provides a visual insight to a master piper and his trade.

LIAM O'FLYNN - The Piper's Call Tara Records TARADVD3037
This is a video version of Liam's 1998 CD. I was lucky enough to attend the CD launch in Dublin and a subsequent concert at the National Concert Hall, and I can tell you that this DVD gets as close to the heart of O'Flynn's music as any of us did at those performances. Filmed with the same musicians as the audio recording, and originally produced as a Hummingbird VHS video, it's a very welcome re-release. The camera techniques are a little dated by today's digital standards but the music is excellent and the visuals are clear and engaging. With a full range of imagery, from scenic shots of Irish landscapes to close-ups of piping fingers, this DVD holds the eye for well over an hour.

Probably the finest uilleann piper of his generation, and a founder member of Planxty, Liam O'Flynn has played with the best of Irish traditional musicians as well as classical orchestras and many other musical traditions. Here he is joined by Steve Cooney, Arty McGlynn, Rod McVey and Liam Bradley, as well as guests Seán Keane, Matt Molloy, Carlos Nuñez, Mark Knopfler and the Irish Chamber Orchestra. In addition to all the tracks from the Piper's Call CD, there is an introduction by Seamus Heaney and several interviews, plus a couple of bonus tunes from Liam.

Sparkling reels, jigs, hornpipes and slow airs are interspersed with a Scottish strathspey Miss Admiral Gordon's, a stunning pair of Galician muñeiras, a slightly dull Danish tune which wasn't on the CD and a couple of very tasteful orchestral arrangements. Micheal Ó Súilleabháin's 6-minute setting of Bean Dubh An Ghleanna is a clear highlight, a classic slow air which has been tackled by Liam, Matt and Seán in the past. I also particularly enjoyed the set of four reels which includes The Humours Of Carrigaholt, Mayor Harrison's Fedora and a couple of nameless beauties. O'Flynn's masterclass in Irish piping continues with The Gold Ring, a virtuoso 7-part jig on which Liam's playing sparkles and the fiddling of Seán Keane is simply dazzling. Nearly 50 minutes of music are followed by almost as much documentary footage, including O'Flynn's performances of The Butcher's March and Cath Céim An Fhia amongst other clips: fascinating talk and great playing.
Alex Monaghan - The Living Tradition