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ALASTAIR SAVAGE - Alone With History 

ALASTAIR SAVAGE - Alone With History 
Private Label SAV004CD

Solo fiddle, completely unaccompanied, but very accomplished indeed: this recording follows on from some more eclectic albums, and sees Savage return to his roots in the music of eighteenth and nineteenth century Scottish fiddle masters. Alone With History starts and ends with mini suites of Alastair Savage's own compositions - the sedate Publisher's Tea and the fiery reel, Nathaniel's Birthday, dedicated to the young Gow, followed by a set of three tunes for his father Neil centred on the dramatic new-worldy piece, The Duke of Atholl's Catch, lead into a pair of tunes for Rabbie Burns who travelled up From Ayrshire To Perthshire to visit Gow in 1787 and no doubt slowed his progress by Chasing The Lassies along the way.

There's a gorgeous rendition of Ae Fond Kiss, one of my favourites among the many melodies associated with Burns, and a bit of a crowd-pleaser in My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose, perhaps the best known of Burns' songs. The crowd in question is a small audience in Crathie Kirk on Deeside, highly appropriate for the three tracks of James Scott Skinner tunes which celebrate probably the finest Scottish fiddler of the nineteenth century. The Queen's Welcome To Invercauld wouldn't be my first choice of Skinner march, but it's a fine tune and opens a medley of march, strathspey and reel including The Glenlivet and the magical Spey In Spate taken at a gentle pace. Next comes a virtuoso performance of The Bonnie Lass O' Bon Accord, down near the mouth of the Dee, followed by three of Skinner's most popular tunes: his Cradle Song, the great strathspey, The Iron Man, and the reel, Sandy Grant. The fiddle shows both sweetness and granite strength in Savage's hands.

Back to the Gow family, and Alastair plays a selection of well-known compositions by Neil, Nathaniel and Andrew Gow. The beautiful lament which is perhaps Neil's most famous piece is followed by strathspeys and reels, culminating in Largo's Fairy Dance and the rarer Major Molle. This album ends with three more Savage compositions honouring Scotland's fiddle tradition: the poignant Hymn For The Masters, the gentle Alone With History, and the final Your Light Will Shine On. Something of a fiddler's sandwich then, with plenty of tasty ingredients, this CD demonstrates Alastair Savage's exceptional mastery of the Scottish fiddle repertoire in a very fine solo recording.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 116 of The Living Tradition magazine.