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Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle, Vol. 1

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Album Review

There's a huge legacy of Scottish material for the fiddle, and its melodies are vastly different from the Irish. Who better to explore it than Alasdair Fraser, who's not only a virtuoso on the instrument, but whose love of the music is apparent in every note he plays? In pianist Paul Machlis he has a very sympathetic companion — a man who can not only play the ceilidh style, but who can offer some sophisticated, but never overly so, fingerings behind the fiddle. Add in a bass and cello on some selections (like the beautiful harmony between cello and fiddle on "Chapel Keithack/Belmont," for example) and you have a record that's close to perfect. Fraser's technique is impeccable, allowing him to attempt anything from a moving slow air to the almost impossible "Madame Neruda," which he manages without even seeming to break a sweat. There's beauty all through this record, not only in the playing, but also in the choice of material from many different composers, and Fraser touches on virtually every aspect of Scots fiddle music, including the wonderful strathspey of "Lady Charlotte Campbell's New Strathspey," which transforms into "Lady Charlotte Campbell's Reel," the notes cascading out like a fountain. Machlis works so well that often the listener barely realizes he's the sign of the perfect accompanist, while he still keeps time and glorious underpinning on "Da Forfeit O' Da Ship/Da Grocer/Jack Is Yet Alive." As fine an album of Scottish traditional music as you're going to find, performed with panache and high style.


Born: 14 May 1955

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Alasdair Fraser is one of Scotland's most influential tradition-rooted fiddlers. A two-time winner of the open competition of the Scottish National Fiddle Championship, Fraser continues to expand the musical traditions of his homeland with his expressive and virtuosic playing. In addition to performing more than 50 times on BBC radio and television shows (and, in the U.S., on A Prairie Home Companion), Fraser has been featured on the soundtracks of such films as Titanic, Braveheart, The Spitfire...
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Legacy of the Scottish Fiddle, Vol. 1, Alasdair Fraser
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