Bantry House, Co Cork · By Nicki ffrench Davis · Irish Examiner · Thursday, August 23, 2012

The morning coffee concert at Masters of Tradition was relaxed and intimate.

Programmed as a solo concert, it featured flute player Kevin Crawford, a founding member of Lunasa.

Crawford’s humour and stories introduced artfully combined sets of new and age-old tunes and his playing was fantastic. He invited guitarist John Doyle to join him, and then Martin Hayes, completing the Teetotallers line-up.

The main evening concert was opened by Andalusian singer Carmen Ibanez Berbel, who also played guitar. Her singing was mesmerising, with impeccable tuning and beautiful phrasing. Moya Brennan, of Clannad, was accompanied by harper Cormac de Barra, whose sensitive accompaniment and subtle vocal harmonies added colour to Brennan’s sound.

The second half of the concert featured Sweden’s Väsen, who showed why they are regular headliners at folk festivals worldwide. Featuring the extraordinary nyckelharpa, Väsen have taken old Swedish polskas and turbo-charged them, and their own compositions are lively adventures full of humour and surprises.

The trio’s arrangements are incredible, full of counter-melodies, rhythmic tricks and spicy harmonies. The highlight was an unexpected, almost jazz-rock improvisation played with gusto.

The late-night concert featured three harpers, Cormac de Barra again, joined by Michael Rooney and Tríona Marshall. While each played some wonderful solo music, with Marshall’s playing particularly memorable, it was the extraordinary sound of all three collaborating on O’Carolan tunes that was the talk of the night.