Gig review: Fiddle Summit


CELTIC Connections' Fiddle Summit managed, without overkill, to showcase an at times dazzling variety of styles from four nations, opening with Shetland fiddler Chris Stout and harpist Catriona McKay in a delicately floating contemporary piece, all drones and metallic echoes, and concluding with McKay's lovely Swan LK243, here riding the swell of 13 fiddles and assorted stringed things.

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In between, there were contrasting Irish styles – West Clare's Martin Hayes with guitarist Dennis Cahill playing a limpid Easter Snow before going for a characteristic slow burn, gradually building up pace and excitement. In contrast, Irish-American player Liz Carroll, after a gently meandering tribute to the late Tommy Makem, whipped up an incendiary set over the thrumming damped strings of John Doyle's guitar.

The genial improvising chemistry of US string band crusader Darol Anger and mandolinist Mike Marshall worked up a sassy Brazilian shuffle before switching to the mellow tones of baritone violin and mandocello for a beautifully lingering melody, while the Swedish trio Vasen deployed cascades of string sound and energetic polskas from their distinctively ringing five-stringed viola, nyckelharpa (keyed fiddle), and guitar.

Pulling things back, stylistically at least, towards 18th-century Scotland (and the solitary strathspey of the evening), Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas gave us some sinuously intertwining fiddle and cello lines before they were gradually joined by the others for a grand finale. What a pity our world leaders seem patently incapable of getting it together as amicably and creatively as this particular summit.