Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas: In The Moment

This is the second release from Alasdair and Natalie as a duo, the first being Fire & Grace. Alasdair has several previous albums to his credit, and has established himself as a fine violinist and a promotor of fine Scottish traditional fiddle music. On this album you will find some nice fiddle tunes, mostly traditional and contemporary works complemented by one or two original pieces written by Alasdair and Natalie. All in all, it is very tastefully presented, including a nice cardboard CD cover. It is evident from the outset that you are in the company of two very good musicians. The recording quality is excellent, a credit to Bruce Wheelock at Flying Whale Studios, Grass Valley, California, and Bob Shumaker at Bay Records, Berkley, California.

There are only two guest musicians making a fleeting appearance on tracks seven and fourteen. They are Hanneke Cassel on piano and Eric Rigler on Scottish small pipes and great highland bagpipes. For most of the album it is just Alasdair on violin and Natalie on cello. Alasdair leads the tunes with Natalie supplying a tasteful and often imaginative backing. The set pieces take a relaxed, almost classical approach to the tunes rather than the wild “Celtic” sound you hear so much of these days. If you are a fiddle or cello player, this may be an album for you to get your teeth into.

I imagine this type of album will be more favoured by classical music buffs, as opposed to the run-of-the-mill folkie, but it is well worth listening to. On a purely personal level, maybe if they had added a few vocal tracks to the set list it would greatly expanded their market and appeal. It is a pity for such good musicians to be just resigned to producing background music at parties or social occasions. So if you are a fiddle player or you just fancy something a cut above the usual jigs and reels, I recommend you get this album. You will find more details and the opportunity to buy online here.

(Culburnie, 2007)

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