Gig review: World Fiddle Night


COVERING the entire world via six fiddlers was never going to be feasible, but this international line-up made a fair fist of demonstrating their instrument's adaptation into diverse musical styles and traditions. The show was originally the brainchild of Dutch player Tim Kliphuis and Scotland's Charlie McKerron, with the rest of their featured exponents – Ireland's Frankie Gavin, Russian gypsy trio Koshka, and India's Sharat Chandra Srivastava – chosen to reflect and build upon previous collaborations among them.

McKerron's somewhat nervy start, with a demanding selection of tunes leading from an unusually-hued slow air to an over-hasty final reel, set the tone for much of what followed: a good many outstanding moments, interspersed with scrappier turns. Kliphuis came on next, with guitarist Nigel Clark and double bassist Roy Percy, delivering an impressive display of the fiddle's versatility, with his winningly playful but technically brilliant schtick of giving classical melodies – here by Grieg and Pachelbel – a sparkling swing-jazz makeover. He and Koshka's Oleg Ponomarev then joined forces for a lovely duet on the Stphane Grappelli rarity Souvenir, before Gavin stepped up for a typically turbocharged blast of Irish material, accelerating into a frenetic, unlovely blur.

Second-half highlights included an evening raga from Srivastava, progressing from meditative serenity to pyrotechnic drama, and further fireworks from Koshka, as Ponomarev duelled flamboyantly with fellow fiddler Lev Atlas. Several other numbers featuring more than one player came off less successfully, though, and the full-ensemble finale was shambolic.