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BLAIR DOUGLAS - Italian Chapel Suite 

BLAIR DOUGLAS - Italian Chapel Suite 
Private Label BRDMCD01 

This CD offers a dedication in music to Italian prisoners of war (WW2) on the Orcadian island of Lamb Holm where they constructed a chapel from two Nissen huts on the periphery of Camp 60. During their term of imprisonment they created wonderful frescos, a beautiful wrought-iron screen, a carved concrete font and then an Italian architectural facade. The passion and humility of the Italian prisoners is beautifully respected in Blair Douglas' compositions here.

Starting with a stately quartet, the feeling is 'traditional' - but which tradition? - not specifically Italian, nor Orcadian, but nevertheless a good scene setter. The instrumentation is restrained to harp, violin, viola, cello and flute in the main, with Douglas' accordion appearing in Chiocchetti’s Waltz, and a vivifying pipe band march, Orcadian Salute To Camp 60 (with two-voice playing which curiously reminds me of biniou pipe music from Brittany and perhaps of some Southern Italian playing I once heard). On This Rock is a pleasant stepping tune reminiscent of a Scandinavian bridal march.

I have become hooked with the concept of the album and particularly with the quality of musicianship and exquisite tone of the instrumentalists. The choir rendition of Jesu, Jesu, Prega Noi is very poignant, and the harp and violin on Lambholm Addio offers a fitting farewell to and from the Italians who left in 1944. The CD ends with a pipe solo, a touch of genius to salute the prisoners, and in its way paying tribute to the fallen in that war and to the humanity which outlasts it.

C.John Edwards

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This album was reviewed in Issue 126 of The Living Tradition magazine.