BOLDWOOD – Glory Of The West (Hobgoblin HOBCD 1018)

Glory Of The WestBoldwood 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.

Dai Jeffries

Artists’ website: www.boldwood.org

‘Hunsdon House’ recorded at The Ashmolean Museum (not from the album):

Boldwood: second album available soon

Boldwood

Glory Of The West is Boldwood’s second full length album, coming a decade after their debut album, Feet, Don’t Fail Me Now, which was released in 2007 to great acclaim, and also included many previously unrecorded tunes. The band was awarded Fatea magazine’s Tradition Award in 2008. This long awaited release contains 12 more gems gleaned from the rich past of English dance music by Becky Price.  Members past and present appear in the current BBC television adaptation of Poldark. Boldwood’s music was also heard in episode two.

Boldwood was born in 2003, when accordionist Becky Price visited the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library in Cecil Sharp House, London. She was drawn to an elegant, locked bookcase containing mysterious leather-bound volumes. Wearing the regulation white gloves, she leafed through the fragile, often handwritten manuscripts and discovered a treasury of forgotten English dance music. Copying out her favourites she gradually realised what these tunes really needed…… a new band!

Back in 18th century England, the worlds of folk and classical music happily co-existed and inspired each other to produce rich and fascinating instrumental music. This glorious period in our musical history provides Boldwood with the core of its repertoire. Much of Boldwood’s material is taken from little-known publications and hand-written manuscripts, all of which could end up sounding rather dry and academic. Boldwood, however, is anything but, being described by Blast from the Pastas ‘the most exciting band playing English music at the moment’.

All the members of Boldwood are classically trained, with an additional grounding in traditional music and, since much of this material was originally intended for dancing, they bring these neglected musical gems to life with a tremendous energy and drive.

A book of tunes collected by Becky and Matthew –The Boldwood Dancing Master -was published in 2014. In 2016, The Second Boldwood Dancing Master was published by Blast Books.

BECKY PRICE (piano accordion) studied classical piano with David Earl in Cambridge, played in Finality Jack for 7 years and has recorded with Blowzabella members Dave Shepherd (Ashburnham) and Jon Swayne (Love And A Bottle).

KATE MORAN (violin, viola) recently completed a Masters in Violin Performance at the RNCM in Manchester. She has played English traditional music since her childhood, was a member of the Britten-Pears Orchestra for several years, and currently divides her time between Boldwood, teaching and freelance classical playing, most recently with Longborough Opera.

DANIEL WOLVERSON (violin, viola) plays fiddle in Pach Pi, Infamous Grouse and Finnegan’s Wok, and hurdy-gurdy in French dance band Cyser. He also plays nyckelharpa (Scandinavian keyed fiddle,) and played soprano violin in a performance by Carleen Hutchins’ New Violin Family in 2005 (dir. Roddy Skeaping)

MATTHEW COATSWORTH  (fiddle, viola, English concertina)

Artists’ website: http://www.boldwood.org/