Boldwood released their first album ten years ago. Glory Of The West is their second so there have been a few changes in between. The group has slimmed down to a quartet with Matthew Coatsworth joining Becky Price, Daniel Wolverson and Kate Moran. The essence of the line-up is still fiddles and violas with Becky on accordion and piano and now Matthew adds his English concertina. The repertoire is English dance music from the 17th and 18th centuries with one tune as late as 1838. Although originally published in collections of country dances, these are more like country house dances and they conjure up images of elegant drawing rooms and lavishly appointed ballrooms.
Not that there is anything stiff or overly formal about Boldwood. The opener, ‘Dainty Fine Bride’ from the pen of Nathaniel Kynaston, is played as daintily as you like except that the pizzicato gives it a very modern feel. Other sources include the usual suspects John Playford and Thomas D’Urfey (responsible for a delightful setting of ‘Just As The Tide Was Flowing’) but Boldwood have a fascination for old and obscure manuscripts, even finding ‘The Bastille’ printed on a dance fan in the Ashmolean. Some of these tunes will be familiar but most will not.
Boldwood have their spirited side, too. ‘The Coquet/Irish Frolick’ will leave you as breathless as any ceilidh band but they follow it with ‘At The Brow Of The Hill’, a flute composition recast for piano and concertina. Initially, it sounds as though it was designed to give the ladies time to swoon, but it too picks up the pace. The title track is the album’s big production number, starting out rather untypically before building to a climax.
Glory Of The West is a multi-purpose album. You can practice your dance steps to it; pinch a tune or two if you’re so inclined or just listen to it for pleasure. It’s very good for that.
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‘Hunsdon House’ recorded at The Ashmolean Museum (not from the album):