Out of the Shadows

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

Bleckell Murry Neet

Bleckell Murry Neet; The Cumbrian Duo - Ed Heslam, Jean Altshuler; Willowhayne

Bleckell Murry Neet
; The Cumbrian Duo - Ed Heslam, Jean Altshuler; Willowhayne

Reviewed by Robert Hugill on 8 March 2022 Star rating: 3.0 (★★★)
Traditional tunes from Cumbria in engaging modern versions for guitar and harp

Bleckell Murry Neet on Willowhayne Records features a selection of Cumbrian tunes performed by the Cumbrian Duo (Ed Heslam, guitar, Jean Altshuler, harp) in arrangements by Ed Heslam.

Heslam, a composer and guitarist, has been both a member of an early music consort and a folk dance band. He moved from making arrangements of traditional folk melodies, to researching old melodies and songs from unpublished material including 18th and 19th century fiddle books. 

These are not attempts to recreate the original context (the Cumbrian fiddle tradition died out at the beginning of the 20th century), but to develop the melodies into new music, set in a new context. As such, Heslam's arrangements take full advantage of the rippling, flowing nature of writing for the guitar and the combination of guitar and harp in these songs is very seductive.

The disc has fourteen tracks, which vary between individual songs and longer medleys. So that Slates Away, Time to Play is a medley of old playground songs, with the melodies taken from an article in a late-19th century magazine, the North Lonsdale Gazette.  Whilst Geordie Gill features two songs originally recorded by RVW, who reputedly did not record the words because he could not understand the singer's dialect! 

Several of the songs are by the Cumbrian bard, Robert Anderson (1770-1833), and another such creator of local ballads was Susan Blamire of Dalston (1747-1794),  whilst other songs come from manuscript books. The title track, Bleckell Murry Neet refers to a song by Anderson (written in 1803) which describes a lively night at the Theak't Cott pub at Blackwell, and the performance moves from Tommy Coulthard reading the words to Heslam and Altshuler's performance. And the record cover shows an old photograph of the inn (which was demolished in 1904).

The booklet notes are excellent as Ed Heslam gives background to each of the songs, where it came from and the local background. Whilst there are toe-tapping dance numbers here, many are often gently engaging, the lyrical melodies benefiting from Heslam's imaginative treatments. The sound world is very much the modern day salon, Heslam and Altshuler firmly take these songs out of the pub and the local, and re-present them in a form suitable for the modern recital. The result is an enchanting disc, full of gentle delights.

Bleckell Murray Neet - songs from Cumbria
The Cumbrian Duo (Ed Heslam, guitar, Jean Altshuler, harp)
Recorded in St John's Church, Keswick, 8 & 9 October 2020
WILLOWHAYNE WHR071 1CD [70.52]








Never miss out on future posts by following us

The blog is free, but I'd be delighted if you were to show your appreciation by buying me a coffee.

Elsewhere on this blog

  • Black Renaissance Woman: Samantha Ege and John Paul Ekins explore music by six remarkable women from the Chicago Renaissance - record review
  • Fun, seduction & politics: Rimsky Korsakov's The Golden Cockerel from English Touring Opera - opera review
  • A new opera, an unperformed 19th century opera, plus Weber & Bellini: I chat to Richard Tegid Jones of Rugby-based Random Opera Company - interview
  • A joyful celebration of playing together: MiSST's 9th Annual Concert - article
  • Urban dystopia: Guildhall School's double bill of Judith Weir's Miss Fortune and Menotti's The Telephone - opera review
  • Elan and style: Grands Motets by Michel-Richard De Lalande from Sébastien Daucé and Ensemble Correspondances - record review
  • Iceland: The Eternal Music - Graham Ross and the choir of Clare College explore the contemporary music of Iceland - record review
  • A superbly engrossing performance: James Newby and Simon Lepper in Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin at Wigmore Hall - concert review
  • English Touring Opera's revival of Puccini's La Boheme proves finely satisfying - opera review
  • The Last Castrato: Max Hoehn and Torsten Rasch on their new collaboration as part of Opera21's platform for new opera - interview
  • Manhattan to Montmartre: Bernstein and Gershwin transcriptions from Julian Jacobson and Mariko Brown - record review
  • The cycle of life: Jamie Manton's new production of Janacek's The Cunning Little Vixen at English National Opera - opera review
  • Home

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Posts this month