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BARBARA & GORDON MOONEY "One for the Birds" Traditional Music TRCD002

I received this CD with some trepidation - childhood memories of early RSPB film soundtracks came back to me, but I needn't have worried. Imagine a cross between the 'Music in Trust' albums of the Battlefield Band, and the early Hamish Moore LP's (Open-Ended and Cauld Wind Pipes), and if that idea appeals to you, then so will this CD.

Any addition to the recorded repertoire of the bellows pipes is welcome, and Barbara and Gordon here play a mixture of pipes and other instruments - bassoon, flutes, and whistles are the principal contenders. Many of the tunes used are well-known - the Swallows Tail Reel and the Lark in the Clear Air, for instance, while others are common tunes with unusual titles - the Eagle's Nest is surely a variant of the Blackthorn Stick.

Some of the selections work better than others. "Capercaillie" was my favourite, bringing back memories of "baby sitting" ospreys, and disturbing these turkey sized birds in the woods around Loch Garten. "Fasgadhair" (The Great Skua) reminded me a little of Battlefield's "Frideray". In the end I found it best to ignore the ornithological correlations, and just listen to the music.

Unfortunately, one track lets this CD down. The Northumbrian smallpipes used on "The Hawk" (or at least a very odd version of it, hardly recognizable as the James Hill tune) are badly out of tune, and have a strange dead tone. Neither instrument nor tune are a good advertisement for Northumbrian music, but luckily there are plenty of other recordings to do that job.

I am uncertain as to the intended market for this CD. It will make a good Christmas present for RSPB members. The birds are described in the notes in such a way that I suspect it is aimed at a non-British audience. It will appeal to "pipeheids", particularly of the bellows - blown variety. It may also convert a few more musicians to the possibilities still lurking in Scottish smallpipes, which are a beautiful instrument, well suited to playing with others.

Julia Say

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This album was reviewed in Issue 19 of The Living Tradition magazine.