Worthwhile for Getting Sense of Two Outstanding Musicians in
Chip Webb | Fairfax Station, VA | 03/21/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The Eye of the Eagle, a musical collaboration of Celtic Christian artists David Fitzgerald and Dave Bainbridge based on the Rev. David Adam's book of the same name, was released as an album in late 1998. (I have reviewed the album elsewhere on Amazon.com.) Shortly afterward, a concert of the music was held at Norwich Cathedral in England. A British television special devoted to the concert then aired in 1999. Eventually, Dave Bainbridge's Open Sky label acquired the rights to the TV special, and this DVD was released in mid-2006.
This DVD's main feature is the TV special, although some reports suggest that it was reedited for the DVD. The concert includes 11 of the album's 12 tracks (although the last third of the final track was reserved for the encore, which is included as an extra feature here and was not in the original TV special). Since David Adam had a prior commitment, Bishop Martin Shaw provides the readings from Adam's and other texts. Concert footage is interspersed with interviews of all three Davids and imagery of Celtic Christian locales such as Lindisfarne and Glendalough.
The concert itself is very good, with the cathedral's atmosphere adding much to music that is more traditional and arguably even more "high church" than found in Fitzgerald's and Bainbridge's work with the band Iona. This is not rock music, so some Iona fans may be disappointed. It is most similar to the music on Fitzgerald's solo album Lux Aeterna.
There are a few negatives. The camera focuses on Fitzgerald so much that you would think that this were a solo concert rather than a Fitzgerald/Bainbridge collaboration. (To be fair, Bainbridge sits in shadows, and this may have impacted the director's decisions.) The concert -- or at least the video -- changes the order of the tracks from the albums. The new order is interesting and provides a different feel for the music; still, some flow and cohesion are lost in the rearrangement. It's also not clear why one of the tracks apparently was not played at the concert. Shaw's readings of the texts are good but are a bit too melodramatic; I prefer Adam's original readings. Finally, while the female vocalists and cathedral choir are wonderful and were indispensable on the album, too often their voices seem to get lost on this recording.
But this video, strangely, is not most valuable for the music. The music is outstanding, but if you really want to focus on that, go out and buy the CD. (I recommend buying the original version with Adam's readings, not the newer version without them.) No, the most valuable parts of this DVD for fans of Fitzgerald and Bainbridge are the lengthy interviews with the two musicians and Adam. They provide a window into the creative process that produced this extraordinary, wonderful music.
This DVD, then, will be most appreciated by those who already are familiar with The Eye of the Eagle CD. My recommendation is to buy that first and then, when you are ready, come and purchase this worthwhile video."