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Islands (Mel Bay Publications)

Review by Steve Marsh in Classical Guitar magazine

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transcribed and arranged for solo guitar by Keith Hinchliffe

Mel Bay Publications MB20453BCD 40pp 
(38pp of music) + CD

Keith Hinchliffe has the reputation of being one of the most versatile, resourceful and inventive guitarists on the English folk scene and quite rightly so. He has appeared in concerts with players of the calibre as John Renbourn, Bert Jansch and Stefan Grossman and was a one-time member of the legendary Albion Band led by the ‘Guvnor’ of English folk music, Ashley Hutchings.

The twenty-three pieces in this new edition are all taken from Hinchliffe’s CD ‘Islands’, a programme of celebrated and less familiar tunes from Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Isle of Man. It appears that he has poured his musically creative energies into these arrangements and has come up with what can only be described as a superb presentation of some very striking melodies.

Moods throughout the programme vary from intense sorrow to rapturous joy and there are plenty of both. Hincliffe performs these pieces on the steel-string acoustic guitar and uses a multiplicity of open tunings including: CGDGBbD, DGDGAC, CGCGCD, DGDGBD, DADFAD, CGDGAC, CGDGBD, DGDGBbD, CDCDCE, DGDGGD making the reading of the notation exceedingly difficult, but luckily Tablature comes to the rescue and as it is printed directly underneath the notated score it gives an insight as to where Hinchliffe wants every note played.

There are many rhythmical differences between the printed score and the way he plays this music and it is almost impossible to notate everything required in the playing of it, so listening to Keith Hinchliffe’s performances is a ‘must’ for any afficionados.

Everything in relation to this publication - the arrangements and the performance on the CD - show a commitment and a true understanding of these styles and anyone with a liking for Celtic flavouring should find this album a complete treat.

Steve Marsh