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Journeyman JYM005

Ruth Morris on nyckelharpa, Gavin Marwick on fiddle, and Cameron Robson on cittern and guitar: this trio plays music from across a wide swathe of Europe, both their own compositions and pieces from diverse traditions. From the arguably Celtic Jota Da Gheada by Galician piper Anxo Pintos to the Anglo-French Dream Waltz by English hurdy-gurdy maestro Cliff Stapleton, the Finnish Pirsta learnt from singing group Värttinä to the traditional Romanian Onga Bucharesti, Bellevue Rendezvous' delicate arrangements have remarkable grace and serenity. While Rome Burns is the group's third album - their second was spectacular, and this one doesn't have quite the same jaw-dropping effect, but there are many moments of beauty. The slow Norwegian Hvit Marsj is one such, stark and fragile with that glass-shattering clarity of the nyckelharpa. Vals Etter Sigurd Aalmen is another, the fiddles underpinned by Robson's dark modal harmonies.

The Scottish strathspey Source Of The Spey is followed by Gavin's powerful reel, The Unicorn, which has hints of his Iron Horse rendition of The Anvil. This more lively side of Bellevue Rendezvous continues with the title track, a comment on US and EU politics in two more Marwick compositions: Nero's is a slow reel with menacing undertones, while The European Dream is surprisingly upbeat given recent events. The album finishes with an Armenian-American piece for oud, Hicazkar Sirto, cunningly picked out by Cameron with fiddle backing before Gavin and Ruth beef up the melody line of a swirling dance tune. While Rome Burns is a very pleasant album, carefully arranged and expertly played. The notes are full and informative and the artwork is both attractive and intriguing. I would have liked a little more contrast in the music, more bite at times, and some surprises along the way, but I will certainly be listening to this CD again. 

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 119 of The Living Tradition magazine.