Bonnie Rideout,
Scottish Reflections
(Maggie's Music, 2002)

American Bonnie Rideout has taken the Scottish fiddle tradition and made it her own. She has all the qualities required -- sumptuous tone, deep soul, fiery speed, superb technique -- and produces recording after recording of classic fiddle music.

Scottish Reflections is a compilation CD, but those wise enough to have her previous solo recording need not fear redundancy. These are all tracks in which she has guested on other musicians' albums, bringing her distinctive voice to their musical visions and, as such, it's a great way to instantly have a CD full of "uncollected" Bonnie Rideout.

Her lovely, lilting tone is demonstrated immediately with a medley of three tunes performed with Hesperus, and the new listener will realize that this is no raw, unlettered fiddler but a true artist whose instrumental perfection still permits great emotion. She has the unerring ability to be able to blend with her musical partners, whether it be the pennywhistle on the first track or Sue Richards' Celtic harp on the second, "Seal Songs." The rhythmic interplay among the various instruments of Hesperus on "The Thistle" is also a joy to hear.

A lament for the children of "Dunblane" is heartrending with its keening pipes, and "Unst Bridal March" is slow and stately. There's a bouncy little tune in the delightfully titled "Itchy Fingers," and deep melancholy in such tunes as "Cro Kintale" and "Gloomy Winter," a moving violin/viola duet. Rideout expertly covers a multitude of moods on this CD, and the selections have been assembled with a view to variety. You'll hear her with Hesperus and Richards, but also with Paul Oorts and Karen Ashbrook, Carolyn Anderson Surrick, Maggie Sansone, Robin Bullock and others.

If you're already a fan of Bonnie Rideout, this is a must-have, and if you're not, it's a grand introduction. Rideout is unbeatable when it comes to Scottish fiddle, and this CD helps to show why. Highly recommended.

- Rambles
written by Chet Williamson
published 17 May 2003

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