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PHAMIE GOW - The Angelsí Share

PHAMIE GOW - The Angelsí Share
Scotdisc CDITV817

It was 10 years ago that I saw Ms Gow, at a tender age, in concert in the Strathclyde Suite at Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall, after the release of her sublime second album, Lammermuir – an atmospheric and blissful recording I’ve loved ever since and continue to play regularly. I was mightily impressed then and I’ve followed her career with interest ever since. She’s now regarded as an international multi-instrumentalist, her main instrument these days being piano but also taking in Celtic harp and accordion, with her composing credits spanning film, theatre and finding a special place in the hearts of listeners to Classic FM.

This, her 7th release and a commissioned work is, as the liner notes accurately state, “a stirring combination of bagpipes and orchestra” - the former provided by the band of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and the latter courtesy of the London Metropolitan Orchestra. The album stems from an idea for a film score and a soundtrack for the city of Edinburgh, some 30 miles from where Phamie was brought up in Westruther, Berwickshire.

The opening movement, Edinburgh, sets the scene with an opening gentle piano motif which underpins the entire opus, ebbing, flowing and carried over into the next piece, Sunrise Over Holyrood, which the composer describes as written in an “anthem-like fashion to create a sense of regality and poise.” In fact, the whole work is a suitably majestic statement, multi-layered, combining restraint and poise and burnished with rousing uplift when the pipes and drums with the full orchestra enter.

The Angels’ Share itself is a solo harp item, delicate as thistledown whilst the next segment, The Crystal Stream, features small pipes and piano as the suite continues to develop through varied instrumentation, concluding with Dun Eidean, the Scots Gaelic word for Edinburgh and taking us out as we came in, with the stately main theme on solo piano.

This is a beautifully realised, at times breathtaking work; wonderfully mellifluous and captivating. Pretty classy all told.

Clive Pownceby

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This album was reviewed in Issue 99 of The Living Tradition magazine.