Link to Living Tradition Homepage





STEPHEN J WOOD - Scottish Gathering For Pianoerer

STEPHEN J WOOD - Scottish Gathering For Piano
Eklectica Records ERCD2

This album features 22 Gaelic and Scottish best loved traditional songs and airs. It is truly a musical gathering of sophisticated and smooth folk-jazz arrangements and contemporary classical styles. Stephen is well known in Scotland as an innovative arranger and player of traditional Scottish and Gaelic songs and tunes for solo piano. A frequent visitor to the Western Isles and Scotland over many years, he has drawn inspiration from live performances, from contemporary traditional musicians and from archived music collections.

Thirteen brand new arrangements of songs and airs sit alongside nine revised and updated arrangements. They include I Wish You Would Marry Me Now, The Banks Of Spey, The Atholl Highlanders, Lord Lovat’s Lament, Skye Boat Song, Da New Rigged Ship and Auld Lang Syne. All are recorded on a Steinway Model B grand piano which sounds like an impressive instrument played by a very talented musician. Rightly so, Stephen’s work has won appreciation and accolades from every quarter – classroom, coursework, concerts and competitions. The tunes combine clarity and sensitivity with harmonies and melodic structures belonging to modern times. They will be of interest to pianists of all grades and should easily encourage young players to the genre. The CD also makes for good listening. The arrangements reflect Stephen’s own eclectic musical taste, but discreetly, always treating the tradition with respect. He knows how to set off a melodic line so that the harmony does not interfere with the organic beauty it adorns. Audio samples are available on his website.

Stephen’s book, Contemporary Scottish Songs And Airs For Piano, also from Eklectica Publishing, compliments the CD and contains 19 of the airs and songs from that CD. All the material is ideally suited to the intermediate pianist – most pieces being around grades 4-6. It is intended to encompass all – teaching, exams, festivals and, most importantly, pianists wishing to play purely for pleasure. He has created idiomatic pieces for piano without compromising the beauty and integrity of the original Gaelic and Scottish melodies. The tunes are collected from a range of sources – family, friends, recordings, manuscripts and musical collections. He has identified the basic melodies and then written his own notation. This becomes the raw material from which the arrangements are then written - keeping the organic nature of the folk and oral tradition whilst bringing a new and original sound.

The book is A4, very clearly printed and sits easily on the music stand. Tunes include Hò Ro Mhàiri Dhu, Mo Chachaidh and Farewell To Fuinary. Stephen’s sincere wish is that this new collection will serve to enrich both the Gaelic, Scottish and mainstream piano repertoire by introducing the beauty of traditional melodies in a new guise to pianists and audiences from all cultural divides – classical, jazz and traditional. We think he succeeds.

Kathy & Bob Drage

Secure On-line mailorder service
Buy this CD online from The Listening Post
The Listening Post is the CD mailorder service of The Living Tradition magazine.
This album was reviewed in Issue 109 of The Living Tradition magazine.