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Private Label SCGCD020á

The appropriately titled CD release number 20 showcasing the music of the students at the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music appears eight months later than usual but that it appears at all in these trying times is, as it says in the sleeve notes, a “testament to the resilience and determination of these remarkable young people” and, I must add, their tutors.

It opens with four sets of highland pipes playing the appropriately named In Praise Of Plockton Set. A great start followed by a large band version of the first of only two songs, A Man’s a Man For A’ That, with an excellent instrumental section.

It’s all great but the haunting song, King’s Shilling, and one of the tune sets, Caty And Derek’s with some beautiful lead cello, tugged at me. I like a well played accordion, but they often get a bad press. However, just listen to four of them ensemble on Jud’s Striking Tango and you’ll wonder why.

The final tune set, Alick’s Joy, seemed a little subdued: normally they tend towards the raucous, but then I think perhaps we are all a little subdued after many long months of health protection restrictions. That being said, I tapped my foot and smiled all through the set and marvelled at how well these youngsters play and sing.

Over 60 minutes of varied music to lift the spirits in these trying times. I can only urge you to support the school and future generations of musicians by getting a copy via their website or from their distributer, Birnam.

Iain Campbell


This review appeared in Issue 142 of The Living Tradition magazine