Friday, February 19, 2016
Wendy Stewart and Gary West - Hinterlands (2009 Scotland) [198vbr]
Hinterlands, the new CD from Wendy Stewart and Gary West, pairs two of Scotland`s finest players on two of Scotland`s oldest instruments - the harp and the bagpipes. Wendy and Gary delve into their tradition and deliver a unique blend of song and melody performed with subtlety, skill and panache.But don't just take our word for that - the music critic of one national newspaper in Scotland agrees:
"WENDY Stewart is one of Scotland's top performers on the small harp, here in partnership with piper, academic, broadcaster and ex-Ceolbeg bandmate Gary West, plus guest cello and percussion. Together they have created a thoughtful, unusual album of tunes and songs that explore disparate musical idioms - and continents – in original and refreshing ways. West has a warm way with a song ... while Stewart gives us a new melodic setting of Burns' 'Ae Fond Kiss' and relishes the harmonic possibilities of his 'Slave's Lament'. The instrumental work is everywhere excellent." Norman Chalmers, Scotland on Sunday
Wendy and Gary have been playing together since they met in the 1980s in the Scottish folk group Ceolbeg, one of the leaders in the celtic revival. Wendy explains: ‘We have done a lot of playing together since Ceolbeg days, and have really enjoyed exploring the unique blend between bagpipes and harp.’
Not only do their instruments blend well, but their voices do too. Many fans, used to hearing Wendy and Gary as part of Ceolbeg, will be unaware of their vocal talents. Talents used to great effect on this beautifully crafted CD.
Starting with a 1600s graceful Port from the Straloch manuscript and a lively Lancashire hornpipe, songs and melodies carry the listener right up to the 2000s with a previously unrecorded Gordon Duncan tune. Continents are covered too with Burns` comment on the African trade, `The Slave`s Lament`, musically linked to a Cuban Habanera and the final track, the haunting piobaireachd `The Company`s Lament`, immortalising the East India Company.
Gary continues: ‘For our first recording together, we wanted to select songs and tunes that have a special significance for us, whether they’re in honour of good friends, family or personal to our own part of Scotland, or just special to us because we enjoy them. We hope that they’re as enjoyable to listen to as they were to perform.”
The album was recorded at Watercolour Music in Ardgour, with the help of engineer Nick Turner and musicians Christine Hanson on cello and Jim Walker on percussion.
Wendy Stewart has been instrumental in the revival of the traditional harp since the 70s, learning from the great Jean Campbell in Edinburgh and going on to perform in bands playing repertoire as diverse as Irish/French , Cajun/Scandinavian and North West English.
On returning to Scotland from a time in lovely Lancaster, Wendy joined the ranks of well kent outfit Ceolbeg and discovered the delights of playing alongside the Highland bagpipes in the very capable hands of Gary West. With the addition of full drumkit, synth, guitar and harmony vocals this lot made quite a noise and Wendy still has the electro harp to prove it.
She also recorded 3 solo albums and, now resident in beautiful Dumfriesshire, teaches and performs widely. Whether helping in the revival of the harp on Lewis, tutoring at the RSAMD in Glasgow or singing in her local choir `Cairn Chorus` all stem from a love of music and strong sense of community.
From Pitlochry, in Perthshire, Gary West learned his piping with the much acclaimed Vale of Atholl pipe band with whom he played for 18 years winning both the Scottish and European Championships.
In the late 1980s, he began to play a prominent role in the folk music scene, joining Ceolbeg in 1988, and becoming a founder member of the Scottish ‘supergroup’ Clan Alba in 1991, playing alongside such luminaries as Dick Gaughan and Brian McNeil. He is in regular demand as a recording session player, and has performed on over 20 CDs.
His first solo album, The Islay Ball, was released in 2001 on the Greentrax label, and has been very well received by the critics.
Gary is Head of Celtic and Scottish Studies at the University of Edinburgh. His teaching and research interests include issues of local and national identity; the history of Scottish music, revivals and oral history. Gary also presents BBC Radio Scotland’s weekly specialist piping programme, Pipeline.
Since Ceolbeg days, Gary and Wendy have continued exploring tunes - and more recently, songs , together and their shared knowledge and love of the Scottish tradition performed on two of Scotland’s oldest instruments is the splendid result on their CD `Hinterlands`
1. Full Moon Down Under 4:25
2. Marie Hamilton 4:57
3. Lancashire Hornpipes 3:44
4. Loch Tay Boat Song 6:27
5. Goodwife of Morpeth 3:27
6. Gordon Cottage Set 3:24
7. Ae Fond Kiss 4:11
8. The Twa Sisters 5:20
9. Rory Dall's Port Set 5:17
10. Todlen Hame 4:07
11. Ian Green / Miss Proud 4:14
12. Slave's Lament / Habanera Gris 5:30
13. The Company's Lament 6:35
I really like this one folks.
A lovely cohesive album of instruments and voices :)