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Review of My Edinburgh by Rob Adams

Item posted: Tuesday 24th January , 2006

There's been something of a Stevenson invasion this weekend at Celtic Connections, with Anna Wendy following her aunt Savourna in premiering a new work.
This one stayed close to home, being a portrayal in music, slides and recorded voices of Stevenson Jr's home town, Edinburgh, and without breaking new ground to any great extent, it achieved what it set out to do with skilful evocations of locations from the airy harbour setting of Newhaven to the bustling folk music sessions of Sandy Bell's.
Employing an octet comprising fiddles, viola, cello, mandolin, soprano saxophone, piano and percussion and compositional abilities that are clearly in the genes, Stevenson matched pictures of the New Town with a suitably trig melody and introduced darkness, drama and a certain agitation as images of the closes where Burke & Hare plied their wicked trade were projected behind the musicians.
This was music that clearly drew on the Scottish tradition but had a freshness about it and was played with care and attention by all the musicians, the drive of cello and mandolin lending vigour to the up-tempo sequences and Fraser Fifield's saxophone particularly bringing out the atmosphere and character of Stevenson's music.
As an advertisement for Newcastle University's traditional music course, the Young Tradition concert that followed immediately afterwards in the Piping Centre couldn't have been bettered. Rather than current students, course leader Kathryn Tickell brought a quartet of recent graduates (plus her brother Peter) who played with a vigour and technical ease that speak volumes for the quality of tuition they received and despite apparently being hastily reconvened, they gave a professional standard presentation that wouldn't have been out of place on a more prestigious stage.























Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow

There's been something of a Stevenson invasion this weekend at Celtic Connections, with Anna Wendy following her aunt Savourna in premiering a new work.
This one stayed close to home, being a portrayal in music, slides and recorded voices of Stevenson Jr's home town, Edinburgh, and without breaking new ground to any great extent, it achieved what it set out to do with skilful evocations of locations from the airy harbour setting of Newhaven to the bustling folk music sessions of Sandy Bell's.
Employing an octet comprising fiddles, viola, cello, mandolin, soprano saxophone, piano and percussion and compositional abilities that are clearly in the genes, Stevenson matched pictures of the New Town with a suitably trig melody and introduced darkness, drama and a certain agitation as images of the closes where Burke & Hare plied their wicked trade were projected behind the musicians.
This was music that clearly drew on the Scottish tradition but had a freshness about it and was played with care and attention by all the musicians, the drive of cello and mandolin lending vigour to the up-tempo sequences and Fraser Fifield's saxophone particularly bringing out the atmosphere and character of Stevenson's music.