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JOHN BURGESS "King Of The Highland Pipers" TSCD466

The Name of John Burgess will need no introduction to those familiar with the world of piping, those less knowledgeable need only know that few pipers are held in the same esteem as John Burgess. The facts speak for themselves - when John turned professional at the age of sixteen, he won the three major championships of the time (Argyllshire Gathering, Oban, and the northern Meeting) at his first attempt. From then on he won numerous titles and is regarded as one of the foremost exponents of the art of piping.

This recording is a combination of two recordings John Burgess made for Topic. Tracks 1-8 come from the album "The Art Of The Highland Bagpipe" recorded in 1976, while tracks 9-18 are taken from the 1969 recording "King Of The Highland Pipers". The C.D. is good value with nearly seventy six minutes of piping. One of the biggest improvements in the piping world over the last two decades has been in the quality of recording the bagpipe. Due to the age of the original recordings, the music on this C.D. initially comes across as very "raw", however the quality of John Burgess' piping soon overcomes this limitation.

What becomes apparent very early on in this recording is the sheer class of the piping. The 6/8 set which begins the C.D. is typical with tunes such as "Bundle And Go" and "Over The Water To Charlie" played with a lightness of touch which is delightful. The C.D. has two piobaireachd tunes "The Birth of Rory Mor Macleod" and "The Desperate Battle of the Birds" both of which demonstrate that John Burgess is not just a "Kitchen" piper, but one who can interpret ceol more sensitively.

There is a good mix of tunes on this recording with slow airs such as "Bonnie Argyll, 2/4 marches like "Parkers Welcome to Perthshire" reels of the calibre of "Mrs MacPherson of Inveran" and jigs and hornpipes a plenty. The John Burgess versions are fresh and lively, showing the understanding he has of the light music. The hornpipe set in particular, displays the marvellous dexterity of John's fingers. He plays tunes such as "Paddy Kelly's Stump" and "The Boys of Bluehill" brilliantly, illustrating that it is not only today's younger players who can do the pyrotechnics - and John Burgess never loses sight of the melody in the tune.

Finally this is a definite purchase for any serious student of piping, as well as should those who just want to hear some excellent piping.

Chris MacKenzie

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