The Willow Trio: The Swan of Salen

A CD popp’d thro my letterbox the other day, & with Burnley Football Club not having a midweek game, I finally found some time to listen to it. So, The Willo Trio, & their ‘Eala Shailein,’ which means the Swan of Salen. Overall it is an mixture of instrumentals from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake & traditional Scottish pieces with Gaelic names whose melodies have been drawn by singers such as Julie Fowlis & Flora MacMeil. Among the fifteen tracks of this transcreation, you might also get Hungarian & Spanish dances, so cool & eclectic is The Swan of Salen.

All pieces have been arranged and performed by the Willo Trio, Sam MacAdam, Sophie Rocks and Romy Wymer; who will be releasing the album on February 17th, which you can pre-order now on bandcamp.

Two days after that, on February 19th, at 4PM and 7PM, there’ll be a performance in front of a ballet film, tickets to which you can get here. What you’ll see is a unique blend of Tchaikovsky’s music and traditional melodies played live on three clàrsachs, and a brand new choreography by Deborah Norris ( projected behind the musicians.

It is a bit of a concept album really, a story set on a small tidal island on the shore of Loch Sunart, where lie the ruins of the iron age fortress call’d Dùn Ghallain. Recorded, mix’d & master’d by Luigi Pasquini at Dystopia Studio (Glasgow), Eala Shailein is a really versatile & lovelily flowing selection of highly crafted, well-wrought musical pieces. For me track 4’s blend of cascading finger picking over the ‘Waltz from Swan Lake / Spanish Dance’ was inspirational, while track 12’s ‘Danses des Cynges’ pluck’d the most emotion from my soul. For track 4, I even got up & did an elegant boogie with an imaginary dance partner – I was pullin’ some reyt moves.

Damian Beeson Bullen​

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