Highland Cathedralby Phil Coulter
Rare is the album that's so good you can hardly stop drinking it in. Irish composer Phil Coulter's HIGHLAND CATHEDRAL is just such an album. Coulter taps the sturdy stuff of old Protestant hymns, touches the mists of Irish laments, and grabs the rushing pulse of primal Irish drums. His weaving of solo piano, string orchestra, voices, and Irish instruments is a thoroughly noble effort. "Highland Cathedral" begins with a touching piano solo and is then delicately augmented by violins and strengthened by basses. On later verses, Coulter adds solo bagpipe and then a pipe band, finally topped by a church organ. "Going Home," an arrangement of a Dvorák theme, was written in tribute to golfer Payne Stewart. A lone piper braves the wind and rain (just as one walked the lonely fairway at Stewart's service); with simple piano and string accompaniment, Coulter retains the original's sublime intimacy. Featured on a number of songs is the lovely voice of Aoife: Her vocalise is victorious on the march "Tranquility," moving on the historical ballad "If These Stones Could Speak," and determinedly reverential on "Pilgrim's Way." Coulter occasionally invigorates the album with fun, such as the pounding drums of "The Gathering -- Beltane" and the humorously mischievous "Coultergeist." But hymn gets the final word. Written to dedicate the bark-shaped church in Donegal, and sung by Aoife, "Our Island Barque" could become one of the greatest hymns of all time. Typically for Coulter, the piece builds from a wheezy church organ to a transformative climax with the heart-melting harmonies of the Voice Squad. If you've lost faith in music -- if you've lost faith at all -- listen to this album.
- Release Date:
Performance CreditsPhil Coulter Primary Artist,Piano
Noel Bridgeman Snare Drums
Gerry Cullen Background Vocals
David Leonard Track Performer
Fran McPhail Background Vocals
Frank Gallagher Fiddle,Viola,Human Whistle
Ivan Gilliland Guitar,Mandolin
Ken Rice Violin
Brendan Monaghan Percussion,Pipe,Human Whistle
Phil Callery Background Vocals
Rory McCarron Percussion
Roy Arbuckle Percussion
Alison Hood Cello
Brona Cahill Violin
Catherine Mary Clancy Harp
Louis Roden Violin
Joachim Roewer Viola
Rachel Walker Viola
Gillian Williams Violin
Kathy Aldous Violin
Mark Jenkins Bass
Dermot Byrne Accordion
Bill Butt Cello
Nicola Cleary Violin
Different Drums of Ireland Track Performer
Diane Daly Violin
Technical CreditsPhil Coulter Arranger,Producer
Elaine Clark Orchestra Director
Tony Harris Engineer
Dave Gold Arranger
Janet DeMatteis Art Direction
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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This is absolutely GREAT! The best thing to have in the computer to help cope with the stress of the job and let me tune out the rest of the world! I've always loved ''Flowers of the Forest'' and he does an exceptional job on it as well as ''Highland Cathedral''. An all around truly enjoyable listening experience.
One doesn't have to be born in Scotland or Ireland to be moved by this CD, amazing, I am glad you can't wear out a CD. He puts in music, what can't be said.
Coulter takes his listener on a mystic time warp into an ancient land, its people and his own being. It is inspiring, uplifting and thoroughly enjoyable. I think it is his very best.
This is an awesome, peaceful, yet unique cd both harkening toward the past and moving toward the future.
The Cd has some excellent arrangements, but some are only good. You may find yourself playing only the excellent arrangements.
I absolutely loved the Phil Couter recording as it was played on our bus as background music as we toured Ireland. But when I bought the record and listened to it carefully I found that every song was performed the same way: a slow solo start that builds to a rousing finish. Great! But how many banana splits can you eat in a single session?
Coulter takes traditional instruments and themes and weaves them into a fresh, contemporary sound. Songs range from the traditional ''Flow Gently Sweet Afton'' to a delightful, original compostion, ''Coultergeist.'' Mostly piano with and without accompaniment except for ''The Gathering-Bealtaine'' which features five bodhrans. ''Highland Cathedral'' is majestic!