Friday, December 23, 2011

Be thou my vision

I looked for a long time for this one! I went through innumerable YouTube videos of this hymn, many of them excruciating. It wasn’t just the bad amateur sound quality, which was jarring enough, but the arrangements, most of them syrupy and overdone, with those godawful flutes like in thatTitanic song.

“Celtic” has been completely deformed in the last couple of decades. An example is that stuff you see on PBS. This kind of music was NEVER meant to be sudsy and sentimental. Listen to real Irish music sometime, with that dark urgent drumbeat, the edgy ancient-sounding pipes with a hint of English horn in them.

This arrangement by Phillip Stopford is tender and melancholy (Irish!), the arrangement unhurried and uncluttered, devoid of disco or other gimmicks to twist it around and "update" it. The flute is REAL flute. I love the lack of unnecessary adornment or hokiness. And it’s beautifully conducted, sung by the Belfast Cathedral Youth Choir. Youth! They pust most "adult" choirs to shame.

So, until I can find a decent arrangement with real Irish pipes, I’ll take this one. (The shots of Belfast Cathedral are a nice addition.)