Earthsongs

"If we listen with our hearts we can hear the earth silently singing: It's the promise of the past, it's the yield of new life - it's the songs of the earth. They were always there - awakened by our heartbeats and nourished by our tears - the eternal songs that can lift our spirits to reach for something higher within us".


TRACK LISTING
(Notes by Rolf Lovland and Fionnuala Sherry)

Fionnuala Sherry on violin and Rolf Lovland on piano/keyboards


  • Sometimes When It Rains - "This song came with the rain on a dark and dreary autumn day. The monotonous sound of rain and the repetitive rhythm of raindrops tapping on the windowsill created a poetic melancholy. The rain gives nourishment to the earth. Strange how it can feed the fantasy."
  • Fields of Fortune- "One of our most valued assets is our ability to dream, to give our thoughts wings to fly. By wandering in our minds, we can visit places without physical limitation, and journey to beautiful imagined landscapes. Music is our way of travelling - a free ticket to go anywhere, anytime! Fields of Fortune is a fairytale journey to where we find oneness with the earth and its precious treasures."
    Features Asa Jinder on keyharp and Laoise Kelly on Irish harp.
  • Reel- "In the 1800's, men from the west of Ireland travelled as seasonal workers to pick potatoes in Scotland. These 'tatty-hawkers' brought back the Scottish style of fiddle playing, where the reel was played in dotted triplets as opposed to the typical Irish even style. In our reel we are modern day 'tatty-hawkers', bringing back elements and inspiration from many places into our own twenty-first century reel."
    Features Mairéad Nesbitt on violin and Martin O'Connor on accordian.
  • Always There - "When this piece was first conceived it was as a traditional instrumental tune. We almost forgot that we had the first demo, but at the eleventh hour of the production decided to have another go at it. By changing the arrangement and inviting Brendan Graham to write the lyrics, it willed itself back into the album. Maybe it was the sentiment and the spiritual simplicity of the song that wouldn't let go?"
    Features vocals by Russell Watson.  Lyrics by Brendan Graham.
  • When Darkness Falls (Ode to Kvaase)- "Written in the old family cabin, watching the sun go down over the beautiful fjord of Kvaase in southern Norway. Inspired by childhood memories, and coloured by beautiful pastoral scenery. A musical homage to a precious and ever returning place in my life - a magical and peaceful sanctuary - peopled by echoes of the past - family and relatives who have passed on - but still very much alive here."
  • Sleepsong - "In Irish the word for a lullaby is suantrai - sleepsong - a beautiful and simple way of describing what the song is meant to do - sing someone to sleep. The words written by Brendan Graham are a blessing to a loved one - wishing them all the best that life can give. We are delighted to introduce the mellifluous voice of Irish singer Saoirse in her first ever public recording."
    Features vocals by Saoirse.  Lyrics by Brendan Graham.
  • Lotus - "We've had the privilege of touring and working with many great musicians in China, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan. Each of them has reinforced our own belief that music crosses all cultural boundaries. Lotus seeked to capture this crossing. In the autumn of 2004 we did a long Chinese concert tour. Our special guest on stage was the famous Chinese erhu player Bian Liunian. He joins us here on our recording of Lotus."
    Features Bian Liunian on erhu.
  • Searching for the Past - "In 2004 we were asked to compose a musical score for a film. This simple piano piece was written to a particular segment about a man walking into the future in search of his past. The score was completed but was never used for the film. We felt the sentiment of this piece was suitable to the concept of this album - ending with a question rather than an answer."
  • Daughters of Erin - "During the production of this jig, we realised that it had a distinct feminine character. Unlike most of our other rhythmical up-tempo pieces, this one had a simpler and more light-spirited flow to it. So we invited the Irish musician Máiread Nesbitt on fiddle and Laoise Kelly on Irish harp - to join forces to help bring out its true nature."
    Features Máiread Nesbitt on violin and Laoise Kelly on Irish harp.
  • Half a World Away - "When the lyricist Brendan Graham heard the original melody of this piece Sometimes When It Rains, he was compelled to put words to it - beautiful words about how we can be so physically near each other and yet, at the same time, so far apart emotionally. This feeling of 'near distance' is something to which we can all relate, and truly captures the melancholic mood of the music."
    Features vocals by Jan Werner Danielsen.  Lyrics by Brendan Graham.
  • Grace - "Grace emerged out of a baroque-inspired moment. To enhance this feeling we decided to use the trumpet as a graceful counter line to the violin. We had long searched for an opportunity to work with the widely renowned trumpet player Ole Edvard Antonsen. This piece provided the perfect opportunity to finally invite him to record with us."
    Features Ole Edvard Antonsen on trumpet.
  • Raise Your Voices - "The first psalm-like sketches to this piece came during a sound-check before a TV performance in Japan. As we were looking for a new idea to create a piece for choir and orchestra, this theme provided a possible platform for it. We sent a demo over to the lyricist Brendan Graham, and after working through the night he phoned us these sacred and uplifting words to Raise Your Voices. We first premiered this choral piece in Dublin in May 2003 at a performance in the Helix Concert Hall."
    Features boy soprano Sebastian O'Shea Farren and the Chamber Choir of Ireland.  Lyrics by Brendan Graham.

MY REVIEW AND COMMENTS

With each new release by Secret Graden you find yourself using the same words of acclaim and endearment to describe the recording. And with good reason. This remarkable ensemble, led by two phenomenally talented heartfelt artists, Fionnuala Sherry and Rolf Lovland, consistently create one outstanding work of art after the other. Earthsongs is no exception, the fifth opus in a series of masterpieces thus far released by Secret Garden. Once again you have the gorgeous melodies along with the spirited reels, but never straying from the Secret Garden heartfelt tradition. Outstanding guest artists like the beautiful Irish singer Saoirse and the superb trumpet player Ole Edvard Antonsen continue their longstanding practice of inviting remarkable people to further enhance their music. And once again supporting members of the ensemble like guitarist Des Moore perform with an extremely high level of musicianship and passion for the music, and this is in no small way the result of performing with such emotional and extraordinarily talented leaders.

As always, picking favourites is extremely difficult. The songs range from absolutely gorgeous to high-spirited and lively. But take particular note of the stunning baroque-flavoured Grace featuring Ole Edvard Antonsen on trumpet, which is just heavenly! The gentle lullaby Sleepsong, featuring Irish singer Saoirse in her professional recording debut, is simply stunning, and fans of singers like Karen Matheson and Enya will love this lady! And the gorgeous instrumental When Darkness Falls is an extremely emotional violin and piano duet as only Fionnuala and Rolf can deliver. Once again Brendan Graham has added incredible lyrics to a few of the pieces, and he seems to be a perfect fit to write libretto for Rolf Lovland's beautiful music. You will also note a first on this album - two different versions of one song. Brendan Graham added lyrics to the beautiful instrumental opening track Sometimes When It Rains to create the passionate song Half a World Away, sung by Jan Werner Danielsen.

I know that I keep repeating myself, but this is the most beautiful music created in the world today, and Rolf Lovland has astounding gifts as a composer. You will not find two musicians more passionate and intense in their performance than Rolf Lovland on piano/keyboards together with Fionnuala Sherry on violin. These two beautiful people are not afraid to pour out their heart and souls through their music, and the results speak for themselves. So as with the previous four albums, another must have album for all Secret Garden fans, and also a superb introduction for those who have only recently discovered this heartfelt ensemble.

Bravo Secret Garden for yet another outstanding recording!

ADDITIONAL NOTE: On the Norwegian release of Earthsongs there are three additional pieces, Canzona, Sarabande and Silence Speaks.  Also, the song Always There is sung by tenor Brian Kennedy, a much more fitting performer for this great song!


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