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“Fermi’s Paradox”
Ronn McFarlane: Fermi’s Paradox – Daniel’s Chaconne – Trinity Grove [1]
Traditional Irish: She Moved Through the Fair [1] – Blackwater Side (arr. R. McFarlane)
Traditional English: John Barleycorn [1]
Traditional Swedish: Gånglåt efter Hamare – Sjungar-Lars Visa
Carolyn Surrick: The Last Day
Marin Marais: Gigue la petite
Dave Shepherd: The Rose of Raby [1]
John Newton: Amazing Grace
Georg Philipp Telemann: Cantabile, TWV 41:e5
John Dowland: Dowland’s Adieu for Master Oliver Cromwell
Hans Leo Hassler: O Sacred Head
Robert Robinson: Come Thou Fount
Duane Allman: Little Martha [1]
Turlough O’Carolan: Planxty O’Rourke, Second Air
Charles Gounod: Ave Maria

Ronn McFarlane (lute), Carolyn Surrick (viola da gamba), Jackie Moran (bodhrán) [1]
Recording: Sono Luminus Studios, Boyce, Virginia (June 15-19, 2020) – 60’34
Sono Luminus DSL-92244 (Distributed by Naxos of America) – Booklet in English

”Where is everybody? Humans could theoretically colonize the galaxy in a million years or so, and if they could, astronauts from older civilizations could so the same. So why haven’t they come to Earth? Enrico Fermi

This quotation from the creator of the world’s first nuclear reactor couldn’t be more apt for what’s happening on the horizon of theatre and the arts…where are the audiences? How do musicians/composers communicate with their supposed “forgotten audiences”? Does the Black Hole really exist?

Two years ago this reviewer was introduced to lutenist, Ronn McFarlane and the well-attuned temperaments of his Renaissance companion. And while this release heavily concentrated on traditional melodies from Scotland and Ireland, “Fermi’s Paradox” adds stitches of crossover music and companionship.

Tragedies yield opportunities, and that’s exactly what Ronn McFarlane and Carolyn Surrick accomplish. Gone are venues, as such, but in its place, a luxurious presence of re-engagement and re-creation. Were it not for the Pandemic, these friends wouldn’t have uncovered hidden jewels of the past as well as penning their own creations…together. What becomes most fascinating on the CD are the new compositions and the threading of two or three songs into one.

Carolyn Surrick’s viola da gamba has a rarity in its ability to provide shadings of emotions that add great chemistry. For instance, Telemann’s Cantabile is deep in its flush with an outpouring of Burgundian blush. She also stakes claim during Gounod’s Ave Maria as the lute takes the harmonic backdrop. The rendition is searing but not over reacted.

Equally, Ronn McFarlane’s investments are worthy and in their own right. While his Fermi’s Paradox cleanly ponders the crux of the current state-of-affairs, his Trinity Grove is also a momentous experience in a different dimension: the piece is patiently pondering. Here, we dwell upon the ancient Redwood trees and a soft walk under grand canopies and damp earth. The pine needles on the floor, however, appear rejuvenated as Jackie Moran’s percolations awaken the giants. The Grove must, however, return their slumber in the closing arguments. Balancing his own compositions, M. McFarlane’s Daniel’s Chaconne gives the album a more amiable, softer edge.

In a paraphrase of old songs, the bountiful rendition of Come Thou Fount/Sjungar-Lars Visa cleverly weaves together religion along with folk melody, allowing each instrument a say in the music. The combination of She Moved Through the Fair and the classic, John Barleycorn, gets a stronger awakening by adding the percussive strength by M. Moran on the bodhrán. For a quick reflection, even Howard Duane Allman “Skydog” returns in a refreshingly gorgeous rendition of Little Martha. Un grand hommage.

Ronn McFarlane’s friend is the lute, and Carolyn Surrick’s viola da gamba her cherished soul. Integrating these two enduring instruments is significant and meaningful with an enlightenment to last a lifetime.

...Enrico Fermi’s dilemma has been rectified.

Christie Grimstad




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