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Evergreen Ensemble continues their fascinating journey into the sound world of colonial Australia with this enchanting album of instrumental and vocal music drawn from the music collections of Sydney Living Museums and the State Library of New South Wales. Bringing together Australia and Scotland’s finest Early Music talent and iconic folk artists, Evergreen Ensemble weaves stories back through time, rediscovering the sounds of folk melodies performed on period instruments.
For their new album Curious Caledonians, ensemble director and violinist Shane Lestideau has invited four renowned guest musicians to bring their specialised knowledge of nineteenth-century performance styles to the recording. With the help of a Scottish researcher, they have delved deep into the nation’s musical archives to discover treasures hidden in the personal music books and manuscripts lovingly bound together by their owners for safe-keeping. Much of this music bears the unmistakable flavour of Scotland: strathspeys and reels, haunting Gaelic airs and arrangements of favourite Scottish songs and tunes. It gives us the chance to ‘listen at the window’ of a Scottish-Australian house in the 19th century and consider what place these songs, piano duets and quadrilles may have had in their lives.
The album features the dulcet tones of mezzo-soprano Allegra Giagu and soprano Claire Patti, with Claire also appearing on Celtic harp. Australian violinists Shane Lestideau and Ben Dollman (Australian Brandenburg Orchestra) are joined by Aaron McGregor of the renowned Scottish Baroque ensemble Concerto Caledonia, with acclaimed Australian Baroque cellist Daniel Yeadon completing the string section. Performing on an authentic 19th-century Collard & Collard square piano are historical keyboard specialists Neal Peres Da Costa (University of Sydney) and David McGuinness (Concerto Caledonia).
Curious Caledonians offers a rare insight into domestic and public music-making in Australia since 1788, honouring the extraordinary contributions of Scottish culture to Australian society and exploring Scottish music’s unique ability to reinvent itself in new surroundings. Part classical, part folk, part Scottish, part Australian, this album captures the musical – and emotional – landscape of the early Australian settlement.
1. Miss Susanna Baird’s Reel / Miss Johnston’s Reel
2. Black Mary
3. The Emigrant Highlander’s Wife
4. The Blue Bell of Scotland
6. Laddie Oh Leave Me
7. Hit Her on the Bum
8. The Favorite Scotch Rondo
9. The Hen’s March / Sir George Murray’s Favorite / The Duke of Wellington
10. The Marquis of Huntly’s Welcome Home / [No] 6 Dance
11. Ye Banks and Braes
12. Jenny Dang the Weaver
13. The Banks of Clyde
14. Lord Moira’s Welcome / Miss Jeann Stewart of Bohally’s Reel
15. The Horse-man’s Port
16. Queen of France’s Lamentation
17. Blackbird Waltz
18. La Fenella
19. Don Alphonso
Shane Lestideau violin
Ben Dollman violin & viola
Allegra Giagu mezzo-soprano
Claire Patti soprano & Celtic harp
Aaron McGregor violin
Daniel Yeadon cello
Neal Peres Da Costa 19th-century square piano
David McGuinness 19th-century square piano & harpsichord