Reviews of "The Fiddler's Friend"

One of America’s finest Celtic piano accompanists gets her chance to shine in this gorgeous album of sweet slow airs, lively dance tunes and stately marches. While her left hand oom-pahs away or rumbles slowly, her right hand is a marvel of easy brilliance. She is so clever with these melodies designed for the fiddle bow. In a rippling reel, she will suddenly, quickly pound one note or two, where a bow would wiggle. Lush hand-over-hand arpeggios add heart-tugs to slow airs. Occasionally, delicate Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser takes a solo, and Magone reverts to her trade; laying soft color to a slow air, quick bounce to a jig. Her playing is always intelligent, often lavish, but never at the melody’s expense. A must for Celtic music lovers. —New England Folk Almanac

For me, some of the most impressive parts of the Masters of the Folk Violin touring show a few years back were the accompaniment that pianist Barbara MacDonald Magone gave the various Irish and Cape Breton fiddlers featured. Her timing and sense of rhythm were flawless, and she embellished creatively but not obtrusively. The Fiddler’s Friend is a set of instrumental dance tunes with Magone as featured soloist. Most of the playing on the tape is Magone’s, but she is very capably and inobtrusively backed by fiddler Alasdair Fraser and guitarist Jody Stecher. The material is a mixture of mostly Scottish dance tunes, combining traditional tunes with some that just sound traditional by performers such as Liz Carroll, Fraser, and Magone herself. The material is beautifully performed and this is undoubtedly the best recording of Celtic piano music I’ve heard. —Mike Parrish, St. Charles, IL, for "Dirty Linen Magazine"

Some of the best piano accompaniment on the planet is generated on Cape Breton Island, and Barbara MacDonald Magone’s THE FIDDLER’S FRIEND should provide ample proof should there be any doubters. Not only does she shine as an accompanist on the selections that feature Alasdair Fraser on the fiddle (Jody Stecher adds guitar to many of the cuts), the recording features her piano as the lead instrument a majority of the time. Her appearance with the Masters of the Folk Violin tour that came through Burlington, VT several years ago was a worthy introduction—this recording demonstrates why she’s an accompanist of choice wherever Celtic fiddlers gather.
— Champlain Folk Magazine

Barbara MacDonald Magone is from Cape Breton (heritage) where these days I guess they play Scottish music better than the Scots. A pianist deeply steeped in this tradition, Barbara has produced an excellent recording, almost entirely overcoming all the natural disadvantages of playing music that has expressly been developed for the fiddle on an instrument with a very different intrinsic character. The performances are both subtle and robust, and the pianoforte’s articulation means that this would be an ideal medium for learning the tunes. —Folk Roots Magazine

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