Píobaire, An, Volume 4, Issue 41, Page 6

Píobaire, An, Volume 4, Issue 41, Page 6
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periodical Publisher
Na Píobairí Uilleann
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Chairman, NPU
periodical Title
Píobaire, An
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6~ Review ~Up Against the FlatironsEliot Grasso (The Ace & Deuce of Piping, Vol 1)(Na Píobairí Uilleann NPUCD014)Available from Na Píobairí Uilleann at 20.00 (lessmember’s discount, plus P+P)The Flatirons, an impressive mountainchain near Boulder, Colorado, were theinspiration for the title track of thisunusual album of solo uilleann piping by EliotGrasso. Produced by Na Píobairí Uilleann, this is thefirst in an upcoming series of new recordingsfeaturing the individual styles of contempo-rary uilleann pipers.Eliot, who I had the pleasure to meet onlyrecently during the Spring Tionól of theGerman Uilleann Piping Society DUPG onBurg Fuersteneck, hails from Baltimore,Maryland. He comes from a family of activeIrish Traditional musicians and has beenexposed to music more or less all of his life.After learning a variety of instruments (piano,flute, whistle) – that he mastered to an alreadyconsiderable extent while still a schoolchild –he took up the pipes at the age of twelve. Hecites local piper Paul Levin and KieranO’Hare as his teachers in his early formativeyears. Names like Séamus Ennis, LiamO’Flynn, Robbie Hannan, Gay McKeon aswell as tutors John O’Brien, Seán Potts andTommy Martin are mentioned as guidinginfluences after Eliot visited Ireland for thefirst time to study at Scoil Éigse. Eliot, besides coming across as a very meas-ured, sophisticated kind of person, developedan impressive, highly ornamented stylealready in his youth. He certainly possessesthe gift of superior musicality combined witha phenomenal manual aptitude. He has obvi-ously used a very disciplined and well-struc-tured approach on his way to mastering hisinstrument. On the recording he plays a set pitched in “B”made by Andreas Rogge from Tuebingen,Germany, which combines the typical aspectsof Andreas’ flat sets – a charming, yet clear-cut tone, with a considerable amount of growlor bite from mid-range and lower harmonics.There is a nice balance between chanter andregulators.The sheer virtuosity of his performance isstunning, which is also very well representedon the recording at hand. During his recital atthe German Spring Tionól, one could sensehis total captivation of the audience. One sim-ply could not but concentrate and follow himvery closely moving through myriads oftunes, making use of subtle nuances, inter-spersing modulatory notes outside of theusual piping scales and bringing about analmost hypnotic effect. There is inventivenessand variation in his music in abundance. While sticking to the Ennis idea of a combi-
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Píobaire, An, Volume 4, Issue 41

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