Catriona MacDonald

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You have to love Catriona MacDonald. She possesses such a wonderful, self-assured tone on the fiddle, whether she's speeding through "Eilidh's Trip in Germany" or essaying the more delicate melody that's "Michael's Mazurka." There's such confidence in everything she plays, as if she just knows she's going to nail it perfectly, along with a deep knowledge of the traditions of her native Shetland Isles and of Scotland -- as well as bringing them to bear on contemporary tunes. There she can indulge herself a bit more, adding touches of jazz and some stunning improvisation to the mix. The simple fact is that she's got both technique and style, and can put them together with a real sense of swing -- her "Shetland Reels" really do get the feet tapping. Add in a surprising church organ on "Da Silver Bow" and you have a disc that's a revelation, as warm as a lovely summer's day. Although she can make the faster material hum, her playing never becoming lost in a flurry of notes, she's at her best when things are slower and she has the chance to reach to the soul of a melody, which she does with unerring ease. A wonderful, virtuoso performance.

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