Published: September 30, 2000

P/M Donald MacLeod MBE Memorial Competition 2000

Tennents P/M Donald MacLeod MBE Memorial Competition 2000
World Masters of Piping
Greentrax Recordings, CDTRAX 200
Playing time: 64 minutes

Held in April of this year, highlights from the annual P/M Donald MacLeod Memorial Invitational Piping Competition have been released by burgeoning Greentrax Recordings of Edinburgh, Scotland.

For aficionados of competition-style piping, this is your CD. Five current top-line pipers are featured on the recording: Willie McCallum of Bearsden, Scotland; Gordon Walker of Glasgow, Scotland; Angus MacColl of Benderloch, Scotland; Roddy MacLeod of Glasgow; and Niall Matheson of Inverness, Scotland.

The format of the competition run by the Lewis & Harris Piping Society, which was started in 1993 and was in 2000 for the first time sponsored by Tennent Caledonian Breweries, is to pay homage to P/M Donald MacLeod primarily through his music. Pipers are required to play both MacLeod’s original piobaireachd and light music compositions; the latter interspersed with classic tunes from other sources.

It practically goes without saying these days that the playing on a CD like this is just about technically perfect. The content, however, is what makes this project shine, as MacLeod’s highly captivating ceol mor compositions get a proper airing.

Of particular note is Willie McCallum’s rendition of “Field of Gold.” Delivered flawlessly, with great feeling, this is a standout piece. Niall Matheson’s performance of “The Sound of the Sea” is a treat also, as this highly evocative piobaireachd is truly inspired.

Most of the Donald MacLeod light music on the CD is almost as entrenched in competing piping’s repertory as the other fare. The exceptions are pieces like “Glasgow Skye Association Centenary Gathering,” Duncan MacColl,” and “Sheriff Sandy MacPherson,” which are all welcome listening.

Recording quality captures the live atmosphere of the event, and the altered tone of the players as they march past the microphones lends a welcome warmth to the CD. The CD reflects the feeling of the hall at the Seaforth Hotel in Stornoway.

It’s worth noting that this CD, rather than listing who won what at the contest in excruciating detail, is presented more as a recording of a recital. In fact, the prizelist is barely even noticeable. Perhaps this too is an indicator that the piping world continues to depart from a competitive mindset, putting the proper accent on the music and not the prize.

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