Sometimes you just need a little breathing space to indulge yourself in the enchanting continuum between musical genres. Having played with Judith Henderson in the past I confess to being predisposed towards her, but without bias I declare that her playing is a total delight throughout, a textbook demonstration of how the simple combination of guitar and fiddle can speak volumes. The tunes defy boundaries between folk, classical and the wider palette of film music for which Nick Hooper is renowned. He may be the famous composer of Harry Potter film music, but he’s also an expressive guitarist, a perfect match here with Judith’s sumptuous fiddle. Pete’s Trees is a demonstration of pure cohesion.
Some tunes trace the emotional bonding between the musicians themselves; the opening track, ‘Let me down gently’ is foreboding, but resolves into a happy ending waltz. Fortunately, they avoid self-indulgence; the next tune is an upbeat treatment of the traditional ‘Northern Lass’. Although traditional tunes are sparse, room is made for composers such as Pete Cooper and Emma Peters. Mind you, without reading the notes one could swear that Hooper’s ‘McNaughton’s March’ was indeed traditional, such is its closeness to the idiom. Perhaps intentionally, ‘Pete’s Trees’ is a centre piece of the album, demonstrating the inspiration Judith derived from the English Acoustic Collective Summer School over several years. The course and tuition provided at the School has so profoundly influenced many of our contemporary folk composers.
The album’s combined sound is greater than the sum of its parts. In places it’s an engaging dialogue between set tunes and extemporization. So – sit back and enjoy a thoughtful, beautifully played set that deserves to be frequently revisited.
Artists’ website: https://wordandnote.com/music/henderson-hooper/
Reprinted by kind permission of Shire Folk.
‘Northern Lass Set’ – live: