Jack Talty and Cormac Begley carry a wealth of musical heritage from west Clare and west Kerry respectively. The masterful weaving of regional styles inherent in their duet playing, ranging over five octaves, has defined their inimitable and unmistakable duet sound, a considerable achievement for two musicians still in their mid-20s. The combination of baritone and concert pitch concertinas allows a creative and playful freedom to explore a variety of tones and colours.
Talty and Begley’s seminal recording, Na Fir Bolg, recorded over four evenings in St. Nicholas’ Collegiate Church Galway, draws on material from their respective musical strongholds. This concertina duet displays a dynamism and mastery of a varied repertoire, evident from the subtle approach to Joe Bane’s and the Gypsy Princess barndances, to the wild exuberance of Kerry slides,Johnny O Leary’s and If I had a wife. Na Fir Bolg has been highly acclaimed both nationally and internationally.
“In this recording Cormac and Jack have produced music that pays homage to the beauty of the melody in a way that is neither flashy nor overproduced. The unhurried pace is perfect for letting the tune unfold and also allowing subtle but powerful rhythm to be part of their music. The balance between being slavishly beholden to tradition and being personally creative is a difficult balance to maintain. This recording is a fine example of this balance being beautifully expressed.”
“Is iontach an rud é nuair a thagann dís nua ceoltóirí le chéile – breith úr agus fuinneamh nua sa tsaoghal. I gcás na beirte seo, tá stair agus dúchas láidir ina gcuislíbh óna muintir is ón ndúthaigh ónar síolraíodh iad. Is maith liom an dá ghuth neamhspleách ar dhá chonsairtín ag déanamh ceoil le chéile in’ aon pháirt chomh dlúth san go measfá, ar uairibh, nách bhfuil ann ach an t-aon uirlis ceoil amháin. Taispeánan san go bhfuil an dá chloigean dultha in aontaíos srutha agus gur aon amháin atá ag seinm – gach duine den mbeirt taréis ísliú agus umhlú don sruth ceoil. An ceol atá ina mháistir agus na garsúin ag freastal air. Chun an cumas sin do bheith ag duine ní mór do aiclíocht le seinm uirlise, féith an cheoil agus an t-intleacht agus an féin mhórtas curtha i leataoibh. Tá Jack agus Cormac ionnan sna taifid seo. Is maith liom an ceol a dheinid. Molaim go mór é agus beid ag éisteacht leis go minic mé féin.”
Peadar Ó Riada
Jack Talty and Cormac Begley bring a wealth of inheritance from west Clare and west Kerry, and their instincts for the delicacy of a tune is writ large, particularly on Cronin’s/ I Do Not Incline. The space between the notes is as important as the notes themselves, and the duo instinctively marries both with a delicate touch. With idiosyncratic tune choices, and traversing five octaves, Talty and Begley add an intriguing dimension to an instrument that revels in its top billing”.
Siobhán Long, The Irish Times
“Let us all bow down and give thanks to Jack and Cormac. Let us give praise to their musical ingenuity, to their rhythm and their rolls. And now this, another addition to the traditional musicians list of albums you must have in your collection…Music like this is simply on another level…Na Fir Bolg gives us glorious uncensored concertina music in a setting that I haven’t heard for quite a while. The melody and interplay of instruments is steady as a rock, the melody always shines through and before you know it you are caught up in the magic that they weave. This concertina recording is the highlight of the last decade or more”.
Tony Lawless, TradConnect
“Talty and Begley play concertinas here – nothing else – and their duets are so sweet and natural that I was wondering if this was actually one supremely talented man playing the tune on two hands…Na Fir Bolg is definitely full of the intoxicating pure drop, Irish music distilled through the ages. The title refers to a mythical race of men who inhabited Ireland, and who may have had something in common with our two bellows-pumping heroes – who may even have made similar music…Large concertinas are not easy to master, but Jack and Cormac make it sound easy here”.
Alex Monaghan, Irish Music Magazine