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VARIOUS ARTISTS - "Grand Concert Of Scottish Piping" Greentrax CDTRAX110

Recorded live at the Old Royal High School in Edinburgh last November, this CD is a condensed version of the Lowland and Borders Pipers Society "Grand Concert". Border pipes, small pipes and the great highland bagpipe all share the limelight on this seriously enjoyable CD.

Gordon Mooney,a founding member of the LBPS, kicks the proceedings off on the border pipes, with the only two tracks to feature any accompaniment. A distinctive version of "O'er the Border" and a Matt Seattle Tune "Lindisfarne" both show off Gordon's fine playing and the accompaniment shadows the piping nicely.

The 1995 Glenfiddich Champion, Angus D. MacColl, plays three sets starting with two delightfully played six eight marches. A set of two competition strathspeys and two reels follow with Angus demonstrating precisely why he is such a consistent prize winner on the circuit. A set of tunes including a distinctive arrangement of "The Masons Apron" proves that Angus can also turn his hand to the "ceilidh" music just as well as anyone else. With a beautiful tone and sweet phrasing, Angus's playing is a sheer joy to listen to.

The musical polymath, Martyn Bennet, plays mainly his own tunes on the Scottish small pipe. "The Magic Flute" is an air in honour of Cathal McConnel and and has a distinctly Irish feel to it. A set of quicker tunes finish Martyn's contribution to the album in fine style. Not only can Martyn play well he can also write a good tune as those on the CD demonstrate.

The original "enfant terrible", Gordon Duncan, blisters through three sets which simply confirm that Gordon is one of the most electrifying pipers around. It doesn't matter how often I hear Gordon doing this kind of stuff, it still astounds me. Gordon has an ability to take the highland bagpipe places it has no right to be. Hornpipes, jigs and reels are Gordon's natural environment, and they abound on the eighteen minutes worth of piping that Gordon contributes. It is Gordon at his "jaw dropping" best.

Iain MacInnes, Smalltalk member, ex Tannahill Weaver and folk producer on radio has the unenviable task of following Gordon. Iain proves up to it with two crisply delivered sets on the small pipes. A number of G.S. McLennan and D. MacLeod tunes illustrate Iain's keen ear for the best in melodic tunes, which his rythmic style makes the most of. Both Iain's sets are delightful and serve to remind us that there is plenty life left yet in the old tunes.

Closing the CD are two sets from Allan MacDonald (yes one of the brothers!) on the highland bagpipe. Allan treats us to a couple of his own compositions and some tunes requiring some seriously nifty fingering.

If you have even the slightest interest in piping of any form then this CD is a must. Not only is the piping of an incredibly high standard but the sets are interesting and well put together. Such is the consistently high quality, my favourite set changes with each listen.

Essential.

Chris MacKenzie

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This album was reviewed in Issue 17 of The Living Tradition magazine.