Elizabeth Patterson,
Tidal Wheel
(Banff, 2000)

This is the second CD from Cape Breton Island flutist Elizabeth Patterson. She put out a strong first CD, Pengalleon, which I really enjoyed. I wondered if this one would surpass it or fall short. I was already enchanted by her playing and hoped Tidal Wheel would supply more of the same.

It turns out I was a little disappointed. Just a very little, because Elizabeth's music on this recording is like a bouquet of roses with exotic ferns and local blossoms woven into the spray. I would have been happy with just the roses, you know, but am not unappreciative of the creative adornments.

David Burke assisted on the first CD and appears on this one as arranger, composer and musician, as does Elizabeth Burke, who takes care of keyboards, mandolin, guitars, bass, synthesizers, and percussion. Shawn MacDonald adds violin and viola, while Lonnie Jones plays several instruments and, according to the liner notes, "anything else worth pounding." This is a little more company than I had hoped for, but they are entertaining guests, especially when playing "The Ghost Next Door."

"Wild Mountain Thyme" is just a shade too slow, but the cuts are grouped with an ebb and flow of energy that hint at nautical influences -- perhaps the arrangement is such because of its lunar position on the disc. I've just never heard the piece played so slow.

My favorite of Elizabeth's arrangements is "Night Bloom," played on alto flute. It's a deep-voiced, mesmerizing tune that closes the album. And if you close your eyes, it's such an easy piece of music to fall into. I find her touch and tone compelling whether she's playing a hornpipe or a lament, or anything in between.

Tidal Wheel is a recording that I won't tire of listening to. I predict that these tunes will travel well, will not lose their edge and will take you to places of joy, sorrow, and longing, tantalizing and charming you.

I'll give this equal billing with the first CD. I'm not a big instrumental fan, but I will suggest that you bring this one home if you can get your hands on it.

[ by Virginia MacIsaac ]
Rambles: 15 February 2002