Last Monday evening, Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser and cellist Natalie Haas brought their extraordinary musical partnership to Washington for a large and appreciative crowd at the Institute of Musical Traditions.
This is the 20th year Fraser and Haas have played together, and the anniversary gave the duo the excuse to return to their back catalog. And it is a masterful body of work, beginning with the album where I first heard them—their inaugural CD Fire & Grace, a project that turned heads worldwide with its exquisite musicianship and clear sense of joy.
Steeped in different backgrounds— Alasdair from the roots world of Scottish fiddle and Natalie from the classical halls of Julliard—these amazing musicians responded to each other and to each intricate twist and turn of the music for a delightful two hours. It was art as a life-giving force. And they clearly had fun, recognizing the unique nature of the evening’s setting when they played the “appropriate for Washington” reel Little Donald in the Pigpen. Haas’s percussive use of the cello underpinned the magnificent tones that Fraser coaxed from his fiddle. No matter the tune, their music soared as they traded lead and rhythm roles, then came together in unison so as to take your breath away.
It was an exceptional evening of music making.
Included among the many fiddle tunes they played on Monday was the medley of two traditional pieces, Neil Gow’s Wife and The Old Reel. There were contemporary tunes in the set as well, such as Megan and Jared’s Waltz followed by Mike Vass’ Cavers of Kirkcudbright. Give them all a listen from their Strings Sessions video.
Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas are touring this fall in support of their new album and in celebration of their two decades of a wonderful musical partnership. Check them out, and enjoy.
More to come…