Alasdair Fraser & Natalie Haas - Fire & Grace (Culburnie Records CUL121)
I always look forward to receiving the latest CD from Alasdair Fraser as in a lot of ways you don't know quite what he's going to get up to next. His choice of accompanist this time around is cellist Natalie Haas - and stunning she proves to be.
But then again, what else did you expect? Opening with Dave Richardson's popular tune, 'Caliope House' the choppy cello almost swaggers in setting the pace for the sweet as a chestnut lead line of Alasdair's fiddle. The segue for the following tune 'MacArthur Road' ably demonstrates the kind of dynamic rhythmic approach we have come to expect and by the time the third tune in the set (John McCusker's 'Frank's Reel') is introduced, the unison performance of fiddle and cello will make you short of breath. Now I know that anyone out there reading this review who is a musician will appreciate the dextrous delivery of both artists and will undoubtedly soak up the virtuoso performances but the only problem I have with the album for the general public is that it will be a lot harder to sell after say the fourth or fifth track. That's not meant to be patronising to the wider audience (even a 'folk' based one) as I'm sure they're well capable of enjoying something a little different it's just that a whole album of cello and fiddle no matter how well played might seem daunting. Still, let's not dwell on my reservations; for those of us that live for the music we will relish it!
- Pete Fyfe