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Brenda Stubbert The 2nd Collection
Volume 6 of the Cape Breton Musical Heritage Series
eview by Jody Stecher orignally published in Fiddler Magazine.

One of the things that makes the best old fiddle tunes sound (and feel) so good is the old musical sensibility from which they sprung. Cape Breton's Brenda Stubbert embodies that sensibility; her new tunes are cut from the same cloth as the old ones she plays. It's a sturdy and complex weave containing both Irish and Scottish colors and patterns as well as a certain something that makes it Cape Breton music. I had the pleasure of reviewing Brenda Stubbert's first collection for Fiddler Magazine over a decade ago. The new Second Collection is as good or better.

It contains 161 jigs, reels, strathspeys, marches, slow airs, and waltzes. 60 are Brenda Stubbert's excellent compositions, 38 are by living composers from both sides of the Canadian border and both sides of the Atlantic, and the balance are Brenda's versions of older fiddle tunes. I found many surprises in Brenda's settings of these older well-known tunes. A tune like "The Maid Behind the Bar" has been played so many times it may seem written in stone. What could be done with it? Plenty, it turns out. Brenda Stubbert doesn't "muck about" with a tune or distort it, she makes it better. The little changes in "Bonniest Lass In A' the World" are so good and unexpected they made me laugh. On the other hand a tune like "The MacLellan Trio," Brenda's own composition, is so satisfying in part because it sounds like it always existed. The book contains many such tunes.

If there are any mistakes in the transcriptions I sure haven't found them. The collection is enhanced by Paul Cranford's lucid and reliable text, both in the introduction and in the musical and historical commentary that appears after many of the tunes. - - - Jody Stecher

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