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Birgit Schwab & Sam Brown (Gtrs), Daniel Ahlert (Mand.), & Orchestra : CD: :Elan Valley

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

Elan Valley - The Music of Barry Mills

Birgit Schwab and Sam Brown (Gtrs), Daniel Ahlert (Mandolin), Moravian Phil. Orch. Conducted by Petr Vronsky

Claudio: CC6040 -2

Reviewed 12th March 2018

The music of Sussex – born Mills certainly deserves to be heard. Of the seventy one minutes on offer here, only two works include the guitar.

The Guitar Concerto (The Travels of Turlough O’Carolan) is in six movements, is simply beautiful and as it lasts for more than thirty two minutes quite a substantial affair. O’Carolan was the famous Irish harpist whose music is still played today, much of it on guitars. Here Mills has interwoven some of O’Carolan’s melodies with musical episodes of his own evoking wind, sea, rivers, mountains, and night, to give the listener a sense of the harpist’s lifestyle of constant travelling. The music is magical from start to finish and this concerto really deserves to be discovered and played by guitarists everywhere. The style is, of necessity, very Irish – folk and therefore utterly immediate in its ability to grip the listener. Sam Brown is the guitarist here, and he played it wonderfully well.

The other guitar work is the Mandolin and Guitar Concerto in four movements and is again concerned with nature with movements called Rainfall, The Piercing Wind, and The Ever – Changing Sea, to name but three. The style is more modern but very tonal throughout and again full of wonderful moments, and effortlessly played by both soloists.

The other works, a Mandolin Concerto and two orchestral works, Evening Rain – Sunset, and the title work, are in the same beautifully written almost ethereal style that is fabulous and entirely original in its tonality. A wonderful recording.

Chris Dumigan

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