This is not such a bizarre cross-over as one might imagine for in the 18th century the great Irish musician Turlough O’Carolan, a blind harpist, met the Italian musician Geminiani in Dublin, and through him encountered the music of, yes, guess who, Antonio Vivaldi. So here we have a case of substituting Irish instruments for baroque ones, using baroque instruments to accompany Irish themes, by creating dialogues between Celtic and baroque instruments, or by letting all the musicians improvise. One moment we appear to be listening to a ‘straight’ baroque concerto, then all of a sudden the conventional string continuo/ripieno of the baroque ensemble (Le Orfanelle della Pieta) gives way to celtic musicians playing a jig or reel on anything from a Irish bouzouki to a fiddle. The baroque group consists of three each of first and second violins, one viola, two cellos, a bass and harpsichord while the Irish musicians play Irish fiddle, an Irish flute (like a baroque flute), tin and low whistles, Uileann pipes, Irish bouzouki, mandolins, bodhran, bones, and the Celtic harp (played here with metal strings to resemble its harpsichord counterpart in the other group).
A sequel of sorts to his earlier On the Beach, King of the Beach continues the laid-back mood of the earlier album but is (despite the goofy title) a more mature and unified work. It's one of his best albums and is a return to form after the film soundtrack La Passione and the more electronic sounds of The Road to Hell Part 2. Written primarily during a vacation in the Turks and Caicos Islands, it's replete with lots of beach and summer imagery in the titles ("King of the Beach," "All Summer Long," "Sandwriting," "Sail Away") as well as the lyrics, which were originally written as poems. A remix of "All Summer Long" was a big dance hit in Ibiza and other Mediterranean hot spots. A good album for a summer day, with a soulful mellowness flowing through the tracks.