Written and recorded by brothers Mychael & Jeff Danna between their other scoring projects, A Celtic Tale is the soundtrack to an imaginary film of the Irish legend of Deirdre. Both the album and the legend reflect many aspects of love and sorrow. The Danna brothers mix Celtic folk, symphonic, and ambient music into a distinctive and fitting setting for Deirdre's star-crossed story. Though she is betrothed to a king, Deirdre finds her true love; she and her lover are exiled. When they try to return to their land, Deirdre's lover is killed, and she is imprisoned by the king she was to marry. Love and war blend in Deirdre's story; similarly, the music combines authentic Celtic instruments such as fiddle, tin whistle, flute, uilleann and highland pipes, and wire-strung harp with orchestral power and electronic atmospherics. Both listenable and powerful, A Celtic Tale showcases the Dannas' skill for creating emotionally accessible, technically beautiful music.
Robert De Niro made his directorial debut with this expanded adaptation of Chazz Palminteri's one-character play. DeNiro's role of Lorenzo Anello, an Italian-America bus driver, is secondary to the part of his son Calogero, played by young Francis Capra. The top dog in Calogero's Bronx neighborhood is flashy "wiseguy" Sonny (Chazz Palminteri). When the boy witnesses Sonny commit a murder, he honors the code of the streets and refuses to tell the cops. Sonny befriends him and introduces the impressionable youngster to the creature comforts that mob connections can bring. But though he idolizes Sonny, the boy loves and respects his decent, honest father. It takes a major tragedy for the 17-year-old boy (now played by Lillo Brancato) to decide his true course in life. Though titled A Bronx Tale and set in the Bronx of the 1960s, the film was actually shot in the somewhat safer environs of Brooklyn and Queens.
The songs of late Renaissance and early Baroque England have been sliced and diced in various ways in concert and recorded programming, but the configuration here seems to be unique. The tenor Nicholas Phan, from Ann Arbor, Michigan, devised the program himself: pointing out "how little human experience has changed over the centuries" and that Dowland's melancholia had much in common with the Romantics' veneration of the lovesick solitary hero (both debatable ideas, but both stimulating), he assembles what he calls a pastiche song cycle from compositions by Purcell, Dowland, John Blow, and other lesser-known lights.