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What can you say about a pipe band concert? It's loud, one meaning of Forte. It's a big show, well over an hour, with all the varied touches of the modern piping world - a lovely low whistle air, a Burns song, guitars and keyboards - but actually Boghall and Bathgate get most of the variety here by playing to the strengths of a hard-core pipe band: a drum salute, a track by the juvenile band, a couple of pipe solos and a great choice of tunes old and new. That's what this band does best - another meaning of Forte. And it's a journey - from the Midlothian ex-mining towns where the band was formed, to the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall where this concert was recorded and beyond to all the places where the band has played and collected music: Skye, Ireland, Canada and even Australia to pick up a couple of Mark Saul compositions including Journey To The Centre Of The Celts.

If you've ever been to Boghall or Bathgate, it's hard to imagine these grey and dreich post-industrial communities producing a pipe band capable of winning the European Championship title. Yet Boghall and Bathgate Caledonia has been a Grade 1 band for as long as I can remember, usually well placed at the World Championships and making the European title theirs on more than one occasion. The band has also produced several previous recordings, all of them first rate. I can only think of a handful of pipe bands who could outshine this concert performance, and even so, there are moments here which are probably as good as anyone: the exotic melody Lo Delo Delo, the Worlds Medley which includes a fabulous version of Glasgow Police Pipers, and the virtuoso Mason's Apron set which opens the concert. It's incredible to think that Boghall and Bathgate have achieved their current level of success without sponsorship (perhaps Forte is also an attempt to attract a particular hotel chain) and with a band drawn almost entirely from local players. This is a traditional pipe band in every sense, and Forte bears witness to their consistent world-class performances.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 100 of The Living Tradition magazine.