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Northumbrian Smallpipes and Fiddle

Andrew and Margaret Watchorn

© Andrew & Margaret Watchorn 2013         Tel: +44 (0) 1665 576245         info@pipesandfiddle.co.uk

CD Review: ‘Borrowed Days’

Andrew and Margaret Watchorn

(Northings Music NMCD01)

First, in the spirit of these politically correct times, I must declare a non-pecuniary interest in this CD. Since the good old days of Alnwick Pipers’ Society sessions in the 1980’s, I have been an admirer of Andy’s piping, the duets with Margaret and their contribution to the music made by Dishalagie, the band made up of stalwarts of the APS. Indeed, from time to time I still listen to the tape produced by Dishalagie – traditional and modern tunes played with spirit, feeling and joy.

This CD, following Andy and Margaret’s first duet recording (‘Lecchemede’ in 2004) continues in that vein. Here you will find very well known tunes from the Northumbrian piping tradition, a couple of local songs, newer compositions, including a couple of crackers by Margaret, one by her Dad and others gleaned during their Scandinavian explorations. All sit comfortable together. For those of you who don’t know their music – Andy plays Northumbrian pipes and guitar, Margaret sings, plays fiddle, piano and hummelchen. On this recording they are joined by Andy May, who also adds some extra depth to a few of the tracks with his pipes and piano.

The recording quality of the CD is excellent.

The instruments sound great, the arrangements are nicely varied and the standard of playing, as you would expect, is exemplary.

What about the tunes? Of those familiar to pipers, you will find Keelman ower the Land, with Andy May adding extra pipes, Hesleyside Reel, Archie’s Fancy, Lamb Skinnet, Wild Hills of Wannie and Peacock’s March. Do we need more recordings of this tune? Yes, when they are played this well, although I do have to admit to Wild Hills of Wannie fatigue.

The songs have local connections – Dunstan Carol and Whittingham Fair. The Scandinavian tunes, Flickorna Svensson and Schottis efter Linus Augustsson fit well on pipes and fiddle. Hummelchen and Northumbrian pipes mix well on a tune called Linnen Hall.

There is a fine version of the extremely popular Josefin’s Waltz, composed by Roger Tallroth, rounding off the CD.

Margaret contributes a couple of her own tunes, the wonderfully titled Scabbit Sheep and Saddle Rock which goes back to the aforementioned Alnwick Pipers’ Society days. However, if I had to pick a favourite track from the CD, and I will, it has to be Mrs Elizabeth Ann Dodd, composed by Margaret’s father for her mother. This alone is worth the price of the CD. Even though it was previously recorded by ‘Dishalagie’, this version with the two Andys on pipes and Margaret on piano, has opened my ears to one of the best slow airs I’ve heard for ages.

Only one quibble, Andrew is a great hornpipe player and there are not enough hornpipes! Seriously, as you will now have guessed, this CD is highly recommended as yet another fine addition to the ever burgeoning catalogue of recorded Northumbrian music.

Graham Dixon
(published in the Northumbrian Pipers’ Society Magazine:
Volume 29, 2008)

Andrew and Margaret Watchorn Playing pipes and fiddle

“These two play beautifully in unison and when Margaret plays counterpoint

to Andrew’s pipes, the sound sparkles.”      

Gavin Atkin  - English Dance and Song Society