|Dimensions||14 × 12.5 × 1 cm|
Of an Island Review by Ian Dearden
What a delightfully pleasant task it is, to be asked to review this 2012 CD from the Melbourne Scottish Fiddle Club (MSFC) and its’ talented and famous friends!!
Having spent some time in the early 1980s hitching all over Scotland (although sadly not to either the Shetlands and the Orkneys, the source of many of the tunes on this disc), and given the Scottish bloodline from my maternal grandmother, whose family came from Stornaway, I’ve long been drawn, irresistibly, to Scottish tunes and songs.
The MSFC is an extraordinary club – 17 years old, five CDs, and a thriving membership aged from 8 to 78.
When they perform, they do it ‘en masse’, which means, in English, one hell of a lot of fiddles!!
Founded in 1995 by (recently retired) pianist Judy Turner, and now under the direction of Matthew Robertson, the group is dedicated to playing Scottish tunes, and tunes from the Scottish diaspora.
On this fifth CD, Of An Island, there are bucketloads of such tunes.
This CD features a number of international guest artists, Chris Stout (fiddle) & Catriona McKay (harp), Alasdair Fraser (fiddle) & Natalie Haas.
The MSFC has had the benefit of collaborating with these guests, and the talented Australian fiddler George Jackson, and the inspiration is obvious in the contributions each of the guests has made to this CD.
The MSFC is a large ensemble (some 47 members, plus guests, perform on this CD), but the sound is always clear and crisp.
With backing instrumentation that variously includes guitar, mandolin, bass, piano, harp, and three cellos, there is a risk that the ensemble will collapse under the weight of numbers, but the arrangements are thoughtful, engaging, and reflect a keen appreciation (of the aural equivalent) of light and shade, ranging from delicate solo moments to the sound of thundering massed fiddles.
The tune selection ranges from the Shetland and Orkney Islands to Cape Breton, the Appalachians as well as a swag of original tunes and songs “in the tradition”, all of which will delight anyone with even a hint of the celtic in their bones, their musical DNA or their interest in music!!
Superbly recorded by the inimitable Hugh McDonald (no mean fiddler himself), beautifully presented with comprehensive liner notes, this is a ‘must have’ for anyone with a passion for Scottish fiddle music (and singing).
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