Bonnie Rideout, Maggie
Sansone & Al Petteway,
A Scottish Christmas
(Maggie's Music, 1996)

Bonnie Rideout,
A Scottish Christmas for Fiddle
(Mel Bay, 1997)

Bonnie Rideout, Maggie Sansone and Al Petteway are some of the heavyweight talents of Maggie's Music, a widely respected label boosting the Celtic-American tradition. When they combine efforts to produce a Christmas album, you can bet the results will be something worth hearing.

A Scottish Christmas features Rideout on fiddle, Sansone on hammered dulcimer and Petteway on guitar. They're joined by Eric Rigler on a variety of bagpipes, plus Abby Newton on cello and Jon Quigg on the Highland fife drum.

Much of the music is familiar, although the presentation is distinctly Scottish. Well-known tunes include "O Come, O Come Emmanuel/God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen," "Here We Come A-Wassailing," "What Child is This," "Adeste Fidelis" and "Auld Lang Syne."

Even more are borrowed from Scotland's and Britain's festive Christmas traditions, including "Bottom of the Punch Bowl," "Christmas Duanag," "Hark the Bonny Christ Church Bells," "Christmas Carousing/The Ale is Dear/New Christmas," "Da Day Dawis/Christmas Day I' Da Mornin'," "Baloo, Lammy," "Gloomy Winter" and a set of Gaelic airs, "Suid a Leinibh/Taladh ar Slanair/Taladh Chriosta."

As a bonus, most of the selections on the album are also in Rideout's holiday tunebook, A Scottish Christmas for Fiddle, published by Mel Bay. The book is delightful, providing easy-to-read charts for the tunes and supplying some fun variations -- for instance, both "God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" and "What Child is This" are printed in their traditional forms and then rearranged as lively Scottish jigs. (Both versions of each can also be found on the disc, as can multiple melodies for "Auld Lang Syne.") There are also harmony fiddle parts on some tunes, as well as chords for guitar and piano accompaniment.

If you're looking to add a Celtic flair to your holiday musicianship, this book is a great tutor. But, even for those not looking to learn the music, this CD is a festive holiday treat!

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 28 December 2002

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