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Strath Records STRATH003CD 

There's grandeur in the mountains and seascape of the Gaelic seaboard of Scotland, which Mhairi communicates well to us in this CD of Scottish airs. From her opening track, A Peak Apart, the harmonium drones are steadily, gently imposed upon by 'droplets' of notes from the piano, heralding a masterly touch on a wonderful instrument.

Mhairi plays a Steinway grand, which is sensitively recorded. There are nine tracks: three tunes by Mhairi including Lullaby For Eilidh and Crear; four traditional Scottish Gaelic song-tunes with Aonghas Grant adding a tiny touch of fiddle on Sìleas; and thoughtfully re-configured melodies such as Burns' Ae Fond Kiss and an enigmatic The Parting Glass with which she finishes the CD. The music here is a total infusion in sound of the breathtaking beauty of the West, to which Mhairi has been drawn.

Irish composer Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin (of Cork and Limerick fame - who brought the piano into Irish music as a sort of architectural re-casting of this extraordinary instrument) was Mhairi's tutor and mentor in recent years. She, in turn, brings the piano forwards in the Scottish Gaelic idiom. At the same time, at least for the music on this CD, I wouldn't hesitate to place Mhairi's playing amongst the soundscapes created by Peter Maxwell Davies in Farewell To Stromness and perhaps even Arvo Pärt's Spiegel Im Spiegel.

This is a thoughtfully compiled collection of tunes; elegant and eloquent. The paintings on the CD sleeve are by Beth Robertson Fiddes (whose gallery is in Ullapool) who attended Mhairi's recording sessions; her artwork is a perfect match for the mind-mapping, sounds and colours of the music - a brilliant collaboration.

C.John Edwards