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Move MCD 312

Imagine if you will the music of Alasdair Fraser, Chris Stout, and perhaps Ian Hardie, all transported to Australia and absorbed by a young fiddler of Scots descent and classical training, and you might begin to understand where Catherine Fraser is coming from. Whether she's playing The Laird of Drumblair or her own tune The Dancer on the Deck, Catherine's fiddle is sweet and true. She has a knack for composing and interpreting slow airs: there are seven in the twelve tracks here, five by Ms Fraser and one in a medley of William Marshall tunes. Cromarty was written for Catherine's home near Adelaide, and it's a beautifully simple melody. Jeasidh's Tune is totally different, a swingy waltz for a young cousin. Farewell to Grey Street and Sunrise Departed are somewhere between the two, both lovely tunes. My Heart's Despair, like Marshall's Chapel Keithack, is altogether grander with a hint of chamber music.

Duncan Smith's contribution to Unity is easier to describe: a trained pianist, he took to Scottish music and dance like a highlander to whisky. His composition The Hardie is the seventh slow air, a moody minor minuet, followed by an old English 3/2 hornpipe. Add to that his rock-solid accompaniment on reels and jigs, and more than a few tasty touches elsewhere, and this duo make a powerful team. They pour out strathspeys and hornpipes, old reels and new, Miss Wharton Duff and Lord Saltoun's, Fraser compositions Fiddlers in the River and Chanonry Walk. If there's a weak point, it's the jigs: but that's only in comparison with Catherine's mastery of all other tempos. An outstanding fiddler, she has a rare grasp of Scottish dance music. Unity and two previous Fraser-Smith recordings are available from, with European distribution through Highlander Music.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 71 of The Living Tradition magazine.