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HADHIRGAAN "Keep it Up" GR02CD5733

Hadhirgaan hails from Orkney; and features nearly twenty fiddle players, guitar, bodhran, mandolin, mandola, bass, piano and flute. They produce the sort of thick, rich sound that only a flock of fiddlers can. The tunes are mostly originals, some destined to become classics, if quality is any indication. "Rhena's 80th", a gritty, crooked tune written by fiddler Louise Bichan worms its way into your brain and makes you hit the replay button.

They also know how to rip into a traditional tune with gusto as in "The Wind that Shakes the Barley". Despite large numbers, Hadhirgaan demonstrate a talent for delicacy on tunes such as "Splodge's Waltz" by Diane Joyce (another fiddler). The melody is more graceful and elegant than the title would imply. For a change of timbre, the aptly named "Jigging Flutes" highlights the talents of Roxanne van Schayk. It's a great recording, the sort that leaves you wanting more. But the critical listener may hear an off note here, a tiny bit of indecisiveness there. These are very minor faults, especially considering Hadhirgaan was begun by Douglas Montgomery as an after school project at the Kirkwall Grammar school, just a few short years ago. Listening to them play "Keep it up" or "Dick Gossip" you would never guess that this is a group of school-aged musicians (which is why I didn't mention it before). They play with energy and finesse that would put some adult bands to shame. "Gob smacked" about sums up my initial reaction. Hadhirgaan, according to the liner notes means "keep it going" in the local lingo, and I certainly hope they do.

Elaine Bradtke

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This album was reviewed in Issue 52 of The Living Tradition magazine.