‘Alone With History’ Alastair Savage - spectacular in simplicity, scope and delivery(May 25, 2016)
Referring to Alastair Savage as a fiddle player is somewhat like calling Vermeer a painter, both descriptions are true yet both miss the point by some distance. And the reason is that both have the finest of touches that reach deep into the heart of their work. Alastair Savage's latest album is without doubt a most finely crafted piece of work worthy of a master of the art. It's an unaccompanied fiddle album called ‘Alone With History’ and moves seamlessly through music from the 18th century by Niel Gow and his sons Nathaniel and Andrew, the 19th century virtuoso James Scott Skinner dancing master for Queen Victoria, and a variety of Savage’s own work. And it is spectacular in its apparent simplicity and faultless delivery.
Recorded in Crathie Kirk near to Balmoral Castle, the album is a subtle and seductive 'fiddle journey' delivered in the most understated yet sublimely impressive way. Savage has divided the album into five tune selections beginning with ‘Scenes From Gow’ described as: “seven pictures for solo fiddle” taking inspiration from the Gow family, from there it moves through ‘Dear Poet’ with arrangements of Rabbie Burns’ songs ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ and ‘My Love Is Like A Red Red Rose’, to ‘The Strathspey King’ in tribute to James Scott Skinner, ‘The Gow Family Tree’ and finally ‘Three Reflections’, which reflects Savage’s homage to great fiddle players of the past.
The sound of the solo fiddle blended into church acoustics is perfectly captured by Colin Stephen who engineered and co-produced the album alongside Alastair Savage. Some of the tracks are live performances, and it's utterly evident that while Savage plays you can hear the proverbial pin drop, so enraptured are the audience. Allow yourself to slip into the gentle embrace of ‘Alone With History’ and you will experience the same involvement.
Review: Tim Carroll