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PAUL ANDERSON - Land Of The Standing Stones

PAUL ANDERSON - Land Of The Standing Stones
Fingal Records FINCD505

Inspired by his passion for the landscape, history and culture of his rural homeland in Aberdeenshire, famous for its standing stones, this recording presents over 50 original pieces by one of Scotland’s most celebrated composers and fiddlers.

Encompassing jigs, reels, strathspeys and marches with slow airs, ballads, laments and a pibroch, it culminates, appropriately, in Sunset Song, a suite of the main musical themes from his contribution to the Aberdeen Performing Arts’ 2008 production of Scottish author Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s 1932 novel about the landscape, idioms and people of North East Scotland.

Centred always on Paul’s fiddle, modest accompaniment from cittern, guitars, bass, keyboards and percussion adds pleasing variety, texture and atmosphere. Shona Donaldson sings on one piece and actor Kevin McKidd vocalises a heartfelt account of the clannish mayhem in the Earldom of Mar in the late 16th century.

The music draws on and conveys the genius loci, its history and characters, especially palpably and movingly on the slow airs. The exquisite control and pacing of The Beauty Of Cromar Before Me has a shimmery and lambent quality redolent of a genial summer’s evening and the suitably soaring sensibility of Farewell To St. Kilda is equally sublime.

Classical precision and awesome technique abound yet not at the expense of character and contemporary styling – majesty with melancholy in a tribute to the ‘real’ King Macbeth, jagged edginess for the uneasy feel of the coven at Craiglash in Glassel. This is a truly masterful exhibition of fiddle composition and playing.

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 100 of The Living Tradition magazine.