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HILARY DE VRIES - An Orkney Sampler 

HILARY DE VRIES - An Orkney Sampler 
Boarstone Publishing 9780993322273 

To be clear from the outset, these are tunes inspired by Orkney, not Orcadian tunes – although they do come recommended by musicians from the islands, Ivan Drever included. Hilary de Vries plays primarily harp and pipes and her previous tune books have been written specifically for those instruments. An Orkney Sampler, however, is a book for any melody instrument. More than half of the tunes are in F or B flat major, which might be one of the distinctive aspects of the collection, but, as the composer points out, tunes can always be transposed into another key.

I was immediately taken with the Egilsay Waltz and by a slightly spooky-sounding low-pitched B flat march, A Meeting With Magnus (a distant cousin of In The Hall Of The Mountain King, perhaps?). Once the tunes are out of the composer’s hands, of course, anything can happen to them, and the theoretically up-tempo A Handful Of Heifers had a melodic shape that suggested to me that it could be adapted into a slow air.

This is not a large collection – there are 23 items in total – but it has a certain freshness that merits consideration by those players who enjoy investigating new repertoire.

Paul Mansfield


This review appeared in Issue 131 of The Living Tradition magazine