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English Fiddle Tunes: 99 Traditional Pieces for Violin

English Fiddle Tunes: 99 Traditional Pieces for Violin
Schott Ed 12758  ISBN 1-902455-57-6

'Pete Cooper has here produced an exceptionally interesting, wide-ranging and well-balanced selection of English fiddle tunes, ranging from Playford material to recently composed pieces - an excellent companion to his recent 'Irish Fiddle Solos' from the same source.   All the tunes are clearly printed - and for those who don't read, Pete plays all 99 (yes really!) on an accompanying CD (although the printed track listing is wrong).  There's something for everyone here, from beginners to experienced players, and everyone should find some great new tunes, however many they already know.

 It is prefaced with several pages of good commonsense information about the English fiddle tradition, dancing, village bands, Morris and other useful stuff.  There are also indications on style, all of which is fine until I got to the bowing section - there are few tune books of English material which indicate bowing - especially editorially, and I think the fact that those that are Pete's ideas, rather than authentic practice, should be made more obvious.   Some of the material is carefully gleaned from traditional performers (such as the Stephen Baldwin transcriptions), others not so:  Lemmie Brazil's Step dance comes from a melodeon player (so the bowing indications must be editorial), but rather than getting it direct from her recordings, it appears to come from D. Townsend, which is presumably why Pete plays it so slowly - it isn't a schottische, it's a step dance, and should therefore be played much quicker.   However, these are small quibbles. Pete Cooper is a fine musician, and all his stylistic suggestions are of considerable interest - I found that, even if I disagreed with them, trying them out was a fascinating and enjoyable experience, which helped me greatly in my understanding of the tune in question.   Thoroughly recommended.

Paul Burgess

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This album was reviewed in Issue 74 of The Living Tradition magazine.