Passing it On,

Netherbow Theatre,

Edinburgh, four stars

EDINBURGH’S annual celebration of the traditional arts, Tradfest began its latest instalment with a concert that showcased music, song and dance to a high standard while keeping the distance between those on stage and those in the audience to a friendly minimum.

Gaelic singer Christine Primrose’s opening song and reference to an ill-advised, too hasty pre-gig bite was typical of the juxtaposition of informality and natural, soulful artistry. As a teacher as well as a singer, Primrose was ideally placed to act as a link with the younger generation of Gaelic singers, represented here by Hebridean trio Sian, whose new arrangements of centuries old songs beautifully illustrated a tradition in transition, and all together the foursome made McGregor’s Lament come alive in the moment.

Pipers Finn Moore and Brighde Chaimbeul and fiddlers Marie Fleming and Ryan Young captured the intimacy of teacher passing tune onto pupil – and vice versa – in duos that managed to give the desired flavour of a mini-pipe band (with added super-empathetic guitar from Innes White) in the former case and delivered conversational and creative expression in both examples.

Nuance, wit, risk-taking, contrast and above all a real sense of joy in making music were all there in abundance and Young’s solo feature, where he appeared to have been truly possessed by the melodies, was as exciting as it was uplifting.

In between these instrumental displays came what might be reasonably described as feet music since the shoes of Caroline Reagh and Sandra Robertson, of Dannsa, joined by Jo De Geer and latterly also Finn Moore tapped with as much melodic intricacy, shape and subtlety as they did flowing percussive energy.