Review

Review in ’The English Folk Dance & Song Society Magazine’ 

‘Accompanying Dave Swarbrick’/Dave Swarbrick & Lars Kjaedegaard/Produced by Sascha Pepke & Line Buttenschøn/Gonzo Multimedia DVD & CD

’For Dave Swarbrick fans, or indeed anyone who knows little or nothing of this legendary fiddle maestro, this DVD with ’bonus CD’ is a real treat. It is not actually a course on how to accompany this iconic musician, although the attentive listener could well gain valuable insight from the sensitive accompanying guitar of Danish novelist and long-term friend Lars Kjaedegaard. The main feature is a 30-minute documentary, written by Lars and produced by Lars’ daughter, Sascha Pepke, and Line Buttenschon. It initially summarises his work with The Ian Campbell Folk Group, Martin Carthy, Fairport and Whippersnapper, then moves on to Dave’s numerous performances in Denmark with Lars, and his amazing recovery from his illness. It is an intimate, warm portrait of a national treasure, who has defied enormous health difficulties, yet still retains his utterly unique abilities and style.

We also get an hour-long concert programme of Dave at his brilliant best, with his very modest, but truly excellent accompanist doing a sterling job of augmenting the tunes while keeping things from getting out of hand during Dave’s wilder moments. The repertoire, recorded in 2008/9 is a varied choice of some of Dave’s favourites tunes, typically arranged in sets that match up melodies from all parts of Britain and Ireland, often mixing rhythm and tempi, as he has always done. His playing bursts with enthusiasm, fun and his obvious enjoyment in playing his beloved instrument. The high points, for instance his solo rendition of Billy Pigg’s ’The Gypsy’s Lullaby/Garrick’ set or the Scottish medley ’The Lea Riggs’ set capture some of the finest performances one could wish to hear. Both programmes are well crafted technically and would, and should, be great BBC4 Friday evening viewing.

In addition a CD which, understandably, has some duplication with the DVD concert, gives you a chance to listen to Dave and Lars when a TV is not available. This fine work is a fitting tribute to a huge talent, and is a most enjoyable album.’

Neil Brookes

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