Gavin Whelan came to Christ Church Cathedral, for a Coffee Concert, with a growing reputation as a tin whistle player and he certainly entertained and filled the venue with a wildness of music, spirited playing and foot-tapping dance tunes. A stage raised the three performers up into audience view and the opening set of reels established Whelan’s mastery of the tin whistle and his rapport with fine fiddle player Deirdre Smyth.
A swirl of jigs was spirited and energetic stuff with beautiful whistle and fiddle interplay. The music seemed to spiral up into the yellow dome and it greeted the cold wintry sunshine.
A Sean Potts version of a slow air on the long flute was expressive and lonely before it moved into a dance tune.
Changing over to uilleann pipes, Whelan was exciting to listen to, yes there were a few infelicities but fiddle and pipes raced up into wild scattering journeys, chasing clouds and shafts of sunlight.
A set of hornpipes exposed the curious soft tuning of guitar and bazouki and the player didn’t seem to fit in with the other players. Dance music can get repetitive but the guitar bazouki came across as indifferent.
This did not deter children from dancing with delight and two beautiful children with top knots and a girl in a colourful fleece, enjoyed the rhythm and joy in the music.
Paddy Keenan’s version of Roisin Dubh showed Whelan to be a fine uilleann piper once he had warmed up and the applause was strong and intense enough to merit an encore which didn’t materialise.