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DAVE TOWNSEND "Concertina Landscape" Serpent Press SER006

The comprehensive notes present this as "Concertina Music from England and Beyond", a collection of classical and traditional music for concertina!

LT's main concern is with the latter, and Dave Townsend has sensibly used live or recorded sources where possible. Manuscript sources are a poor substitute, but English traditional musicians are rather thin on the ground and Dave is to be applauded for bringing such "forgotten" tunes back into circulation.

He is ably accompanied by two classically trained musicians, Gill Redmond (cello) and Margaret Knight (harp), the overall impact being of a truly distinct genre of music. This is NOT "English music" of the "Old Hat Band" variety, and personally I found the "classical" items the more interesting, and well suited to the English concertina, an instrument invented by Charles Wheatstone, who was a scientist rather than a musician - maybe it shows sometimes?

Bernhard Molique's "Serenade" is instantly attractive as a concertina/cello duet, not surprising as it was written specifically for English concertina in the 19th century.

Billy Pinnock's "St. Helena March" is unlike any march I've ever heard but a lovely tune, sensitively played and demonstrating the instrument's innate suitability for such lyrical tunes.

Homage to the living tradition is paid via the inclusion of Will Atkinson's "Hogmanay Jig" and there are further Northumbrian echoes in the variations on the "Fairy Dance" and Joseph Warren's lovely old song-tune "Home Sweet Home".

I was also delighted that Dave Townsend simply couldn't resist including the classic concertina party-piece of "ringing the bells" in Ketelby's "Bells Across the Meadows", a bit of self-indulgence I'd certainly employ myself if I played the instrument!

This CD may not be "traditional music" in the accepted sense, but to those with ears to listen, as well as to tune-seekers, all the more interesting for that.

Jim Bainbridge

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This album was reviewed in Issue 33 of The Living Tradition magazine.