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PETE CLARK "Even Now - The Music of Niel Gow" Smiddymade SMD615

The traditional Scottish fiddle style generally known as "The Classic Style" or sometimes the "North East Style" holds a place unique in the fiddle traditions of Britain and Ireland. Unlike the other fiddle traditions, much of the repertoire of this style is from known composers and is learned from published sources, indeed the style is much more "formal" than that of other styles. Of course, this does not mean all the tunes from other regions are of unknown origin, Shetland for example has many fine tunes of known composition that have been absorbed into the general tradition.

Whether or not the tunes have been learned from published sources the technique and interpretation of their playing is a very individual matter, often acquired in the time honoured traditional manner. Time and space do not allow for discussion of technique and interpretation this would be superfluous anyway, most lovers of this style being very well informed on these points.

Niel Gow (1727-1807), considered by many to be one of Scotland's most influential musicians and composers was one of the foremost exponents of this style. "Even Now" is a celebration of his music.

Pete Clark is a highly talented musician and plays these tunes with impeccable skill and taste. A great deal of trouble has been taken to produce the authentic sound of Gow's time. These recordings were made in the Ballroom of Blair Castle with Pete playing Niel Gow's fiddle, "A roughly made Scottish instrument, not a great work of art, as fiddles go" according to the sleeve, even so Pete Clark's skill coaxes a lovely sound from it.

Further authenticity is created by the highly effective use of fiddle, viola, cello and piano, played beautifully and appropriately by Martin MacLeod, Neil Johnstone and Jim Leighton as accompaniments. This is said to be the combination most favoured by Gow. This project will be welcomed by enthusiasts of the classic style of Scottish fiddle playing and should introduce many general listeners to the beauties of this music. The jigs and reels and strathspeys are played with flair but the slow airs and the elegant laments are the highlights of this excellent recording.

Good notes, nice sleeve, beautiful music, beautifully played. I urge everyone with a an appreciation of fiddle music, from whatever tradition, to buy this CD, who knows with enough encouragement we might get more projects like this or even a CD re-issue of some of the masterpieces of the past. Highly recommended.

Danny Saunders

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This album was reviewed in Issue 27 of The Living Tradition magazine.