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LAURA RISK 2000 Miles RISK0401

Fiddler Laura Risk has trawled old Scottish collections for neglected tunes, bringing to light several forgotten treasures. Like her teacher Alasdair Fraser, Laura plays in a powerful, percussive style, with tight control and beautiful tone but bursting with energy and passion, turning reels into romps and slow airs into soul-searches. Her debut duet recording with Athena Tergis in 1995 was promising: now, ten years later and two thousand miles from her California home, Laura Risk has fulfilled that promise with a solo CD worthy of any master fiddler.

The 3/2 reel 'Dubh' an 'Tomaidh', a rare form in Scotland, reveals Laura's interest in the music of Quebec, her adopted home: 3/2 is a common rhythm for step-dance tunes in French Canada. There are other tastes of Quebec in Laura's own compositions: 'The Lost Hat' is a catchy little gem, and Laura's jig 'The Big Meeting' is a swaggering success.

The slower tunes on 2000 Miles are handled perfectly. 'Mr Abel Banks' and 'The Efficacy of Whisky' both have that spine-tingling effect of moving music played with passion. The slow strathspey 'Master Francis Sitwell' is gorgeous, as are the airs Duncan Lamont and 'Tha M'Aigne Fo Chruaim'. More importantly perhaps, Laura can take a 200-year-old tune and bring it back to life: 'Skye Air' and 'Another St Kilda Song and Dance' might not sound like names to conjure with, but Laura works her magic on them all the same, putting them on a par with today's most exciting fiddle tunes.

Add some more well-known material, the right amount of thoughtful accompaniment, and full and informative notes, and you have an outstanding CD: 14 tracks lasting almost an hour.

Alex Monaghan

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