1. When You Are Old mp3
2. The Lake Isle of Innisfree mp3
3. The Song Of Wandering Aengus mp3
4. The Wild swans At Coole mp3
5. The Fisherman mp3
6. The Pity Of Love mp3
7. The Second Coming mp3
8. In Memory Of Eva Gore Booth
and Constance Markievicz mp3
9. What Then? mp3
10. Sailing To Byzantium mp3
11. Byzantium mp3
12. Long-legged Fly mp3
13. The White Birds mp3
Music and arrangements - Christine Tobin
Poems - W.B. Yeats
“Have not poetry and music arisen…..out of the sounds the enchanters made to help their imagination to enchant, to charm, to bind with a spell themselves and the passers by?”
Chanting and enchanting, poetry and music have always been of equal importance to Tobin, both as singer and composer. The poems are chosen from Yeats’s early work through to his final collection. She was particularly drawn to the love poems such as When You Are Old, written with the unattainable love of his life Maud Gonne, in mind, and also his poems that celebrate the transformative power of art and his desire to find a deeper spiritual truth, as in Sailing To Byzantium and Long-legged Fly. Christine works with the poems on a deep intuitive level creating music that draws you into a world of unalloyed soulfulness, conjuring watercolour accompaniments on The Fisherman, and a hypnotic, prayer-like refrain on Sailing To Byzantium. The quiet power of Byrne’s reading of The Lake Isle of Innisfree over Tobin’s sparse, evocative piano accompaniment; brings great warmth and luminosity to the meaning. In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Constance Markievicz captures the spectral quality of friends in a world that has passed and Lockrane’s flute introduction on The Song of Wandering Aengus leads us into a mystical “hazel wood”. Apocalyptic disquiet is conveyed on The Second Coming by a menacing, repetitive 5/4 motif where the “blood dimmed tide is loosed” and culminates in an anarchic crescendo. Romantic and radical, Christine is a musical free spirit who blurs the lines to create her own unique style that manages to be both earthy and ethereal. The rich palette of harmony and colour draws on influences from folk, jazz and twentieth century classical, from Miles to Messiaen.
The new CD "Sailing To Byzantium" (release date July 2012) includes special guest, renowned actor Gabriel Byrne reading three of the poems. Byrne’s presence on the album is of special significance to Christine as he was her teacher back in Dublin when she attended secondary school. Gabriel was the school’s Spanish teacher, but he also led drama classes after hours for students who showed a keen interest. His collaboration with Tobin on this recording follows a direct link to an inspirational time in her formative years when she attended, what was then, one of Dublin’s most unique schools. Yeats’s poems came into her life around this time too, when her first boyfriend used to read her When You Are Old, and a moonstruck Tobin imagined “the pilgrim soul” lay somewhere within.
Setting poems from across the entire spectrum
of Yeats' oeuvre, Tobin perfectly gauges the emotional and spiritual resonances of the texts, aided by performances of incredible subtlety and understatement. The singer nails her beguilingly pure tone and melodic fecundity to the mast from the get-go in the autumnal opener "When You Are Old". In the music's simplicity and emotional directness - songs such as "What Then?" , "The Wild Swans at Coole" and "Sailing To Byzantium" channel a folk-like potency and restraint - you might be able to detect residual traces of her previous release, Tapestry Unravelled. Special guest Gabriel Byrne, Tobin's former school teacher in Dublin, recites "The Lake Isle of Innisfree" (adroitly accompanied by the singer on piano). "The Pity of Love" and "The White Birds", and if his presence on the album helps to attract the attention of a wider audience then so much the better. Creating a sound-world all of its own, the seductive spell of Sailing To Byzantium is immediate, its depth of feeling limitless. Discs of this stature are not common - this is recommended unreservedly.
Trail Belle Records **** Recommended
On Sailing To Byzantium singer/songwriter Christine Tobin adds music to the poems of Ireland’s much-loved William Butler Yeats (1865-1939). Get this wrong, and an entire nation might well demand answers: get it right and a richly imaginative and beautiful recording is promised. Tobin gets it right.
Tobin’s love of Yeats goes back to her teens in Dublin, when her first boyfriend would read her two of the poems: the beautiful “When You Are Old” and the mysterious “The Song Of Wandering Aengus.” Sailing To Byzantium originated in Tobin’s 2010 performance of Yeats’ poems, given at the invitation of the National Library Of Ireland. Her emotional connection to Yeats’ words comes across in every line—in a career of superb vocal performances, this may well be Tobin’s best yet.
Tobin is both a masterful songwriter and a skilful interpreter of other writers’ work; her 2010 album with pianist Liam Noble, Tapestry Unravelled (Trail Belle), superbly reworks Carole King’s iconic recording. Noble is also a central presence on Sailing To Byzantium, driving the pace of “The Song Of Wandering Aengus,” emphasizing the fearful mystery of “The Second Coming.” His rhythm playing, in partnership with bassist Dave Whitford, provides a strong foundation from which their fellow players take a variety of fascinating paths.
Each musician seems to intuitively understand Tobin’s musical ideas. Kate Shortt‘s cello adds pathos to “When You Are Old” and heightens the sense of regret in “The Wild Swans At Coole.” Phil Robson‘s playing is graceful and fluid, his solo on “The Fisherman” matching Tobin’s voice in its beauty. On “Byzantium” the pair combines on a lovely tune reminiscent of Robert Kirby’s arrangements for Nick Drake.
Gabriel Byrne, now better known as the star of Hollywood movies such as The Usual Suspects (1995), was Tobin’s teacher at school in Dublin. Byrne accepted Tobin’s invitation to read three poems and brings his own gravitas to the proceedings. Tobin gives him space, keeping instrumentation to a minimum. Byrne reads the moving “The Pity Of Love” unaccompanied; on “The Lake Isle Of Innisfree,” a poem that longs for the peace of a “bee-loud glade,” he’s joined by Tobin’s lyrical but sparse piano; for “The White Birds” Gareth Lockrane joins him in a flute and voice duet.
Much of the success of this album is down to the way in which Tobin’s music serves Yeats’ words. The poems are always the primary focus, inspiring the music and the performances. Tobin gets the combination just right, giving emphasis to Yeats’ imagery and emotions, highlighting the subtler nuances, and opening the poems up to offer a new experience. She does this so successfully, that it’s possible to forgive anyone who asks how Yeats has managed to write such beautiful lyrics to Tobin’s tunes. There’s a timeless quality to the music and words on Sailing To Byzantium: a record that goes, as “The Lake Isle Of Innisfree” puts it, to “the deep heart’s core.
Published: June 18, 2012