Link to Living Tradition Homepage






Private Label BH001

Once in a blue moon a CD comes along about which you can immediately say: “This is a little bit of magic”. Here's a case in point from Donegal fiddle player extraordinaire, Brid Harper - a wee cracker of a recording which takes fiddle playing to another level altogether. From the first listen I was hooked and subsequent forays into it confirm the initial impression. This is honest to goodness, solid and imaginative playing from a master of her craft.

There’s a bold and unusual start with a solo fiddle playing the slow air, The Flower Of Sweet Strabane, steadily and sweetly, then moving into a solo reel (Tommy Peoples' Greenfields Of Glentown), before transforming into Farewell To Ireland played Donegal style on octave fiddles accompanied by Sean Óg Graham on guitar, before finally returning to a reprise of the initial slow air. Lovely stuff indeed.

Throughout the recording, there is a great variety of styles and musical backgrounds – a number of her own compositions sit comfortably alongside those gleaned from the playing of Tommy Peoples, Jerry Holland, John Doherty, Liz Carroll, Charlie Lennon and James Byrne, amongst many others. Changes of pace and temperament within each set maintains interest, indeed some are unusual enough to make you sit up and pay closer attention.

The pretty sparsely used accompanying musicians are a who's who of current top notch players – John Doyle, Sean Óg Graham, Trevor Hutchinson, John Joe Kelly, Dermot Byrne, Brona Graham and PJ McDonald. This is not always a good thing as it can lead to the homogenised sound often found on recordings these days but, in this case, the relatively uncomplicated arrangements are crisp and clean and the individual tunes each come to life within the finely crafted sets.

There is a fair bit of unaccompanied playing here as well, nicely showcasing Brid's impressive command of her instrument; in particular, a cracking set of tunes - Bó Mhin Na Toitean (march), The Tartan On The Heather (strathspey), Johnny Boyle's (jig), The Atlantic Roar (hornpipe) – all learned over the years while teaching at Glencolmcille Fiddle Week, highlighting her Donegal musical background.

Informative sleeve notes giving background on the sources of the tunes complete a very nicely put together package. Don't miss this if you’re a fiddle fan – an absolute gem from a player at the height of her prowess.

Jim Byrne

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 113 of The Living Tradition magazine.