(27 February 2000) The Irish choral group Anúna are well known forthe soprano vocalists they have produced over the years—Eimear Quinn won Eurovision with "The Voice" in 1996. Méav Ni Mhaolchatha—also from Anúna—gained international attention with the group as a featured soloist performing in the London and US productions of Riverdance and on their albums. Eimear and Méavare the dominant soloists on Omnis and are the two women in the centre of this 1996 Anúnaphoto. Entitled Méav (Hearts O' Space (USA)11098-2, 2000), her debut album reveals an effortless mastery of Celtic and classical pieces, traditional songs and early music. Méav's crystalline soprano voice is perfectly accompanied by contemporary and elegant instrumental arrangements.
The album's repertoire consists of twelve relatively well-knowncompositions. "Ailein Duinn" (theme from the motion picture RobRoy) originally performed by Capercaillie's (review)Karen Matheson is sung wonderfully and sensitively in Gaelic and backed with lovely instrumentation. The flute part is incredible.Méav's stunning soprano rendition of "I Dreamt I Dwelt In Marble Halls" originally written by MichaelBalfe in 1843 for his opera The Bohemian Girl pales Enya's version on Shepherd Moons. David Downes'rich arrangement of "She Moved Through The Fair" with additional vocals and orchestra perfectly suits Méav's vocal performance.Mark Armstrong's arrangement of "I'm A Doun" with similar texturesprovides a contrast to Vanessa Mae's 1996 recording.The classic "Solveig's Song" was written by Greig in 1876. Méav writes about the calling vocalise within the track, "I love the ethereal wordless melody that forms its chorus." Crystallinesolo vocals over light acoustic guitar and violin are joined bywhistle in the Irish classic "I Wish My Love Was A Red, Red Rose"and by traditional drums and additional backing vocals in "Si doMhaimeó í".
Méav's sublimely clear vocals dominate the modern ballad "Since You and I Were True" as well as in the traditional of "The Death of Queen Jane" written for the court of King Henry VII in the early 1500s. Listen for the harpsichord and the flute in the instrumentalbridge. The sensitive vocals for the soft lullaby "Close Your Eyes" are accompanied by lovely violin and harp performances. A stunninga capella performance is used to introduce "One I Love"; vocals are lightly multi-tracked during the song's choruses and only thevery slightest instrumentation backs it in parts. The album closeswith the track "Celtic Prayer." Soaring vocals are combined with a grand instrumental arranged to passes the melody from instrument to instrument, certain to entrall a broad audiences.
You can order Méav's album via amazon.com here. Méav's self-titled debut is clearly one of the best heavenly vocal albums we have heard in a long time and with stunning crystallinevocal renditions of well-known compositions, it is worth a long distance journey and significant further exploration. Now released in the USA andother territories, it is definitely a must listen!