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The Battle Of Killiecrankie - Love And War Songs


Release Date: 11/27/2007 
Label:  Atma Classique   Catalog #: 22510   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  TraditionalAlexander MunroJames OswaldHamish Moore
Performer:  Meredith HallMatthew White
Conductor:  Sylvain Bergeron
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Nef
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

The battle of Killiecrankie in 1689 and its hero, “Bonnie Dundee“ have endured as symbols of Scottish national identity. They have been immortalized in the poetry of Robert Burns and Walter Scott, which was often set to popular tunes of the day. La Nef’s artistic director Sylvain Bergeron and Sean Dhager have created arrangements of these traditional tunes for this recording. Two of Canada’s finest singers, soprano Meredith Hall and counter tenor Matthew White join La Nef’s bagpipes, strings, flute, hornpipe, lute, guitars and percussion in this tribute to love and war in 17th century Scotland.

R E V I E W S:

Passionate singing with instrumental work that is vivacious, clean and full of joy.
Read more /> This is a disc of 18th Century Scottish Music and traditional tunes popular at the time of Robbie Burns (1759-1796). The title applies to what Patrick Mathieu describes as “little more than a skirmish” in which, in 1689, the Jacobites defeated the King’s forces. However too many of their own side died including a hero named ‘Bonny Dundee’. In the eventual aftermath, their cause was lost when Scotland was “annexed” in the Act of Union of 1707. Mathieu’s booklet notes on this subject are interesting but all too brief.

Robbie Burns and other Scottish poets like James Ferguson wrote poems about those terrible and violent times. Consequently it must be remembered that Burns, whose poems are one of the staples of this disc, became the most popular Scots poet of his day and his work lives on in every Scottish breast. Walter Scott’s poetical work is also represented and all this by the Canadian group, La Nef which was founded as long ago as 1991. I’m ashamed to say, that up until now, I had never heard of them. They obviously love the music; indeed this is their fourth disc for ATMA using similar material and ideas.

The disc is divided into four sections: 1. Love Songs, 2. War, 3. Laments, 4. Return from War. There is also a brief unrelated song ‘Scots wa hae wi’ Wallace bled’ which acts as a prelude to the CD. The first section consists of eleven pieces. It did at first seem odd to me that the two singers on the disc are a soprano and counter-tenor who cover a very similar vocal range. I have never especially associated Scottish traditional songs with the counter-tenor voice, but Matthew White is a fine singer with an expressive range. The combination is especially delightful in the various duets like ‘Bonny Barbry O’. This sums up the disc in a way with typically folksy words like “Come down the stairs, Bonny, Barbry O (x3) /And bi a fond farewell to your mother”. The girl is then led off to marry a soldier. “Soldiers never fear, Bonny Barbry O”. On an earlier disc the group ‘La Nef’ used Burns’ famous poem ‘My love is like a Red, Red Rose’ as the basis of an anthology (ACD 22336). On this new recording Burns’ ‘Ae fond kiss’ and ‘O luve will venture in’ appear in the first section. The pure tones of Meredith Hall are just so perfect for this music. Like fresh spring water her tone flows deliciously and her phrasing is natural and even.

The second section ‘War’ is taken over mostly by what one might call the Scottish equivalent of Biber’s ‘Battalia’, James Oswald’s colourful ‘A Highland Battle’. This divides into eight unbroken pieces (untracked) with titles like ‘The Battle begins’ and ‘The Chief is killed’. It is played here by flute, pipes, gamba, guitar and drums. This is followed by Burns’ remembrance of another tragic event in Scottish history: an anonymous setting of his ‘Massacre of Glencoe’.

The third section includes an especially composed but all too brief Lament entitled ‘The Torment’ by Hamish Moore. I wonder if this is the same Hamish Moore who makes bagpipes in the beautiful cathedral city of Dunkeld? All of the performers are mentioned in biography but not Moore. There is also a piece attributed to one Niel Gow (1727-1807), also a Dunkeld man – A Lament for his second wife, after whose death, in 1805, he stopped playing the fiddle. This little piece is tracked with and is attached to a song ‘The Lowlands of Holland’, which speaks of being “twinn’d my love and me”. It’s the usual story of a lover gone and possibly lost to sea. Gow incidentally was a famous fiddler of his day. The final section ‘Return from War’ has two short pieces ending with a setting of Burns’ ‘The Brae of Killiecrankie’.

All of the music has had be arranged to a greater or lesser extent and this has been tastefully and if I may say ‘authentically’ done by Sylvain Bergeron. The instrumental work is vivacious, clean and full of joy. The singing is passionate even if the words are not always clear. Keep the texts to hand throughout especially as many of the songs are in Lowland Scots.

All in all, a very enjoyable disc, if for a specialist market. All texts are given and if you don’t understand the Scots then read the French it translates better! The disc is well worth investigating and as I am off to Scotland just now I shall take it with me.

-- Gary Higginson, MusicWeb International
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Works on This Recording

1. Scots, wha' ha'e wi' Wallace Bled by Traditional
Performer:  Meredith Hall (Soprano), Matthew White (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Sylvain Bergeron
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Nef
Period: Romantic 
Written: Scotland 
2. Bonny Barbry O by Traditional
Performer:  Meredith Hall (Soprano), Matthew White (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Sylvain Bergeron
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Nef
3. Leezie Lindsay by Traditional
Performer:  Meredith Hall (Soprano), Matthew White (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Sylvain Bergeron
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Nef
4. Lumps o' Puddin / Jenny Nettles by Traditional
Performer:  Meredith Hall (Soprano), Matthew White (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Sylvain Bergeron
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Nef
5. Sonata on "Bonny Jean of Aberdeen" by Alexander Munro
Conductor:  Sylvain Bergeron
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Nef
Period: Classical 
6. How sweet is the scene by Traditional
Performer:  Meredith Hall (Soprano), Matthew White (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Sylvain Bergeron
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Nef
7. O luve will venture in by Traditional
Performer:  Meredith Hall (Soprano), Matthew White (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Sylvain Bergeron
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Nef
8. My Nanny-o by Traditional
Performer:  Meredith Hall (Soprano), Matthew White (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Sylvain Bergeron
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Nef
9. Sonata on "Bonny Jean of Aberdeen": Giga by Alexander Munro
Conductor:  Sylvain Bergeron
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Nef
Period: Classical 
10. I love my love in secret by Traditional
Performer:  Meredith Hall (Soprano), Matthew White (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Sylvain Bergeron
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Nef
11. Ae fond kiss, and then we sever! by Traditional
Performer:  Meredith Hall (Soprano), Matthew White (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Sylvain Bergeron
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Nef
Period: Classical 
Written: Scotland 
12. A Highland Battle by James Oswald
Performer:  Meredith Hall (Soprano), Matthew White (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Sylvain Bergeron
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Nef
Period: Classical 
13. The Massacre of Glencoe by Traditional
Performer:  Meredith Hall (Soprano), Matthew White (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Sylvain Bergeron
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Nef
14. The Torment by Hamish Moore
Performer:  Meredith Hall (Soprano), Matthew White (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Sylvain Bergeron
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Nef
Period: 20th Century 
15. The Chevalier's Lament by Traditional
Performer:  Meredith Hall (Soprano), Matthew White (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Sylvain Bergeron
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Nef
16. Niel Gow's Lament for the Death of his Second Wife / The Lowlands of Holland by Traditional
Performer:  Meredith Hall (Soprano), Matthew White (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Sylvain Bergeron
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Nef
17. Welcome home my dearie by Traditional
Performer:  Meredith Hall (Soprano), Matthew White (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Sylvain Bergeron
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Nef
18. The Braes o’ Killiecrankie by Traditional
Performer:  Meredith Hall (Soprano), Matthew White (Countertenor)
Conductor:  Sylvain Bergeron
Orchestra/Ensemble:  La Nef

Featured Sound Samples

Sonata on "Bonny Jean of Aberdeen" (Munro)
A Highland Battle (Oswald)
The Braes o' Killiecrankie (Traditional)

Sound Samples

Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled (arr. S. Dhager): Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled
Bonny Barbry (arr. S. Dhager): Bonny Barbry
Leezie Lindsay (arr. S. Dhager): Leezie Lindsay
Lumps o' Puddin - Jenny Nettles
Sonata on Bonny Jean of Aberdeen: Allegro - Sarabanda - Corrente
How sweet is the scene
O luve will venture in
My Nanny-O
Sonata on Bonny Jean of Aberdeen: Giga
I Love My Love in Secret
Ae fond kiss
A Highland Battle
The Massacre of Glencoe
The Torment
The Chevalier's Lament
Niel Gow's Lament For The Death Of His Second Wife - The Lowland of Holland
Welcome Home my Dearie
The Braes o' Killiecrankie

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