Highlander’s Farewell - Alasdair Fraser & Natalie the Cello

Highlander’s Farewell - Alasdair Fraser & Natalie the Cello

This is a new (spring 2011) recording form Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas. It’s not in the Session’s database yet, and I was wondering if anyone has listened to it. The Amazon blurb mentions some interesting guest spots. I am intrigued by the title. I know there a million tunes written by pipe majors as farewells. But is their last recording together? Did she file a restraining order?

I liked his first collaboration with the cello well enough, but I’ll be happy if he ditches the big-fiddle sideshow and digs into some straight ahead fiddle tunes next time.

http://www.amazon.com/Highlanders-Farewell-Alasdair-Fraser-Natalie/dp/B004IN75CQ/

Re: Highlander’s Farewell - Alasdair Fraser & Natalie the Cello

That does sound promising. No, I haven’t heard it yet, in fact it hadn’t shown up on my radar until you pointed it out. But I’m about to go and find it on a UK download site. And as to the meaning of the title, perhaps you’ll find out if you play it backwards.

Re: Highlander’s Farewell - Alasdair Fraser & Natalie the Cello

You can listen to samples on iTunes.

I’m a bit conflicted about the cello— I think it works splendidly on some of the slower tunes. On the ‘Wee Man from Uinst,’ for example, Haas and Fraser trade off on the melody and accompaniment and it’s pretty tasteful and effective, IMHO. The Darol Anger-y rhythmic attack on the faster tunes can be a bit distracting at times. Haas is damned talented, though.

I’d love to hear a more-or-less solo Alasdair Fraser venture. Or maybe a Fraser-Bain duet album? One can dream. ;p

Re: Highlander’s Farewell - Alasdair Fraser & Natalie the Cello

I don’t have any of their recordings, but they perform regularly where I live and I’ve seen them live three times. Natalie is fabulous and their interaction on stage is riveting as they take subtle cues from each other during a set. Alasdair has a wonderful stage persona and if you miss a chance to see these two perform, you have only yourself to blame.

As for the cello, she can play it rhythmicly, as a guitar would, like a bass, like a second fiddle, or like a percussion instrument, so there is no lacking of variety. When I first heard that this was to be the instrumentation, I admit to being skeptical, but their performance totally won me over.

Posted by .

Re: Highlander’s Farewell - Alasdair Fraser & Natalie the Cello

Live performances have that effect of utterly destroying skepticism sometimes. I’ll see them live if I can— nearly did last year, actually, but Alasdair had a family issue and had to go back to Scotland.

Re: Highlander’s Farewell - Alasdair Fraser & Natalie the Cello

I totally agree with Ailin. You must see them live if you can! Glad to hear they have another album out. I’ll have to grab a copy.

I couldn’t figure out how a cello was going to work on the way to the concert. Natalie just blew me away. She is brilliant.

Re: Highlander’s Farewell - Alasdair Fraser & Natalie the Cello

Haven’t heard the new CD yet, but have heard their earlier recordings, and seen them live—brilliant!

Re: Highlander’s Farewell - Alasdair Fraser & Natalie the Cello

I saw Fraser in North Carolina about 10 years ago, before the death metal cello period. He’s terrific and very entertaining. Regarding the recordings, I really enjoyed the first album with Haas, and even the second. But knowing what he’s capable of when he plays tunes on his own — he’s a mark for playing old tunes and digging out lost ones — I can’t help but be a little disappointed that there’s another cello-fiddle duet with Haas.

Reviewing his discography: There’s the terrific first outing, solo fiddle with only a piano and sounding very Scottish. It’s rough around the edges and the piano is sometimes a bit much, but it is refreshing music and the set of tunes is very interesting. Then came the album with Tony McManus which I enjoy very much — more polished but no less interesting and fine stuff from two fine musicians. In the middle of his catalog there is a spate of soft, new agey relaxation music, remotely Scottish in spots but largely "Celtic" mush, and after those comes the Haas trilogy.

So what I am saying is that I’m still waiting for the solo fiddle album that I know he’s capable of, a portrait of a more mature fiddler, recording with the advantages of more financial backing and maybe even more time.

Re: Highlander’s Farewell - Alasdair Fraser & Natalie the Cello

New Hampshire HIgland Games,
Loon Mountain, New Hampshire.
http://www.nhscot.org/index.php?id=8&tpl=performers

Mr. Frasier (Ms. Haas, too) plays there pretty much every year, it seems.

I worked it doing a blacksmith demo for the event, and slipped off and caught him a few times. I perceived that they moved him around, doing big stage, small stage, and in their bar/lounge.

Great to watch him play up close, good technical lesson for almost any fiddler. He might be doing workshops, too. And it is not impossible to meet him face-to-face.
I did.
:-)

Not a bad event, the Strongman comp is pretty fierce, and a pretty good line-up of pipe bands and "etc"s.

Go.
Enjoy.
Pet a sheep dog.
Have pint.
Try on a Utilikilt.

Yeh.

Posted by .

Re: Highlander’s Farewell - Alasdair Fraser & Natalie the Cello

gravelwalks - you missed a recording by Alasdair Fraser accompanied on guitar by Jody Stecher, The Driven Bow"; very nice and subtle, and not too busy. I think this is is the best recording he’s made.

Posted by .

Re: Highlander’s Farewell - Alasdair Fraser & Natalie the Cello

My favourite Alasdair Fraser recording is still Return to Kintail with Tony McManus on guitar. As a cellist myself, I have great admiration for Natalie Haas’ playing, technically brilliant, wonderful drive to her playing and a striking modern style - but I can’t listen to it for any length of time. It’s just too wearing, too aggressive for me - like a cellist with Tourette’s.

Re: Highlander’s Farewell - Alasdair Fraser & Natalie the Cello

@ gravelwalks, the title of the album is a reference to one of the tunes, A Highlander’s Farewell to Ireland. I have the new CD, and I like it.

To each his own — when I listen to Fraser & Haas, I normally listen more to her than to him. She’s not uncommonly making things up on the fly, and it always works out.

Alasdair definitely has a great stage presence. When the Fire and Grace CD was new, he’d plug it by saying that Natalie was Fire AND Grace, and he was the chauffeur. LOL