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WILLIAM JACKSON "Duan Albanach" Mill Records MRCD018

William Jackson's earlier extended compositions are well-known . the Wellpark and St. Mungo's suites and Inchcolm. This latest offering centres on a setting of the Scottish poem Duan Albanach and is brought up to CD length by a number of shorter individual pieces. This is very pleasant, tuneful and, in places, quite memorable music. Apart from some appropriately odd, battle-cry noises from a carynx (Celtic war horn) at the outset of the main piece it's mostly also very pretty music, with William's own harp never far from the front of the sound. There are stirring strings on Mons Graupius, some lusty Gaelic singing from Eilidh MacKenzie on Lia Fail (The Stone of Destiny) and more typically tinkly harp sounds in some of the shorter individual pieces that make the CD up to full length.

So - what is this? Is it 21st century Scotland's answer to Vaughan Williams or an erstwhile folkies pretensions to classical grandeur? It's certainly not the latter and only time will tell about the former. This sounds like rather good film score music, as does much of Vaughan Williams' output. It would underpin "Rob Roy" rather well, if that film didn't already have a score. It's not at all pretentious - it's just good, tuneful, well-orchestrated music with definite folk roots (remember them?).

Alan Murray

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This album was reviewed in Issue 57 of The Living Tradition magazine.