The Routes Quartet

Windrose

Routes Records

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IN the world of classical chamber music, nothing has fascinated listeners as consistently as the chemistry of the string quartet. It is relatively recently, however, that the two fiddles, viola and cello group has extended its reach, with groups like America's Kronos and Manchester's Brodskys blazing a trail.

On the evidence of their debut disc, The Routes Quartet – two Scots, an Irishwoman and a Liverpudlian on viola – have that chemistry, and are bringing classical training to bear on traditional music with a sophistication beyond their years. Beautifully recorded by Keir Long at St Columba's Chapel on the Drimnin Estate in Morven, their all-points-of-the-compass referencing collection has compositions by all four members, plus tunes from Niel Gow to Kathryn Tickell, and there is not a duff one among them. I am sure it is not nationality that nonetheless draws me to Lochaber cellist Rufus Huggan's brace of reel-and-jig couplings and the moving The Gentleman's Farewell by East Kilbride's Tricia Mullan in particular.

The way all the music is arranged and played is what makes the album a gloriously coherent success, however. Among their upcoming live appearances to promote it are gigs at Glasgow's Merchant City Festival and at the National Museum of Scotland during the Edinburgh Fringe for Live Music Now Scotland.

Keith Bruce