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Pauline Cato

New Tyne Bridge is Pauline's long-awaited solo album. As well as tunes from some of the oldest collections of Northumbrian music (Atkinson, Vickers, Bewick and Peacock) it also includes compositions by James Hill, Billy Pigg and James Scott-Skinner amongst others.
Pauline is delighted to be joined by some very special guests on this CD.

    New Tyne Bridge
Pauline Cato Northumbrian Pipes
Phil Cunningham Piano & cittern
Ciaran Boyle Bodhran
Christine Hanson Cello
Dave Wood Guitar

1 The Cow’s Corrant / The Jackdaw / Kielder Castle / The Sunny Banks of Wooler
2 Follow her over the Border / Jockey lay up in the loft / Andrew Kerr / The sailors is all at the bar U
3 Hepple Haugh / Tom of Bellingham / Unknown No 2.
4 Bovaglie’s Plaid U
5 The Marquis of Waterford / Bottle Bank U
6 Robert the Bruce / Cameron Highlanders
7 Reed House Rant / The Dusty Miller / All the night I lay with Jockey
8 Alloa House
9 The Biddlestone Hornpipe / Biddlestone 2 & 3
10 Gateshead Waltz
11 New Road to Tynemouth / New Tyne Bridge
12 Maggie Lauder with variations
13 The Great North Run / The Glen Aln Rant / Shields Fair
14 The Hexham Hornpipe / The Shetland Fiddler / The Walker Street Reel
15 Chapel Keithack / Mrs Forbes Leith
16 Rookland lasses / My wife’s a wanton wee thing / Rosewood U

Review - New Tyne Bridge
Stirrings, Dec 2005

The Northumbrian piper was once the Robinson Crusoe of English musicians. Marooned in a far corner of the kingdom, strapped to an instrument that (until fairly recently) was pitched somewhere between F and F sharp, and playing a strange, highly specialised repertoire, they had to adapt or pine away in solitude. And adapt they did, of course; they now play in concert G and rattle off anything from Danish hopsas to themes from Debussy. But in the process that unique pipe-specific repertoire was largely left to gather dust in unthumbed manuscripts in museum basements.

Which is why both pipe fans and English music connoiseurs in general owe a debt of gratitude to pipers like Matt Seattle and Pauline Cato. It was Matt who, in the 1980s, began republishing classic pipe manuscripts from the Vickers, Peacock and Bewick collections; and more recently Pauline has been getting some of that stuff onto CD and squirrelling around herself in museum archives. New Tyne Bridge showcases her latest batch of buffed-up beauties from the golden age of bellows-squeezing.

Her performances here are a-sizzle with the energy and exuberance that the best pipers bring to their music; and there's delicacy and restraint too when the mood demands.

To my ears at least, Phil Cunningham's piano accompaniments incline towards the over-enthusiastic at times; they're so high in the mix that they threaten to swamp the pipes. Similarly, Kieran Burke's bodhran strays into excessive elaboration here and there. Dave Wood's guitar and Christine Hanson's cello, by contrast, get the balance just right: a pity they're featured on only a handful of tracks.

And the tunes themselves? Mad as hares, sweet as rosehips and foxy as, well, foxes: every one of them is a winner. Pauline lobs in a few of her tasty originals, and there's a superb set of Billy Pigg's unnmistakable compositions; and Scott-Skinner gets the odd look-in too. The rest are as trad as Sunday lunch and as fortifying; and most of them you'll never have heard before. There's plenty of the distinctive pipers' variations on display: Pauline's own variations on Billy Pigg's Biddlestone Hornpipe are dazzling and right in the groove. You'll wonder whether human fingers are actually capable of moving that quickly.

To play a lot of notes very fast is not in itself a certificate of virtuosity; as often as not, it's mere technique. But Pauline proves here that she has the feel which takes precision and velocity into a higher realm. That's virtuosity, m'Lud - the real deal.

Raymond Greenoaken

Review - New Tyne Bridge
Folk Roots, Dec 2005

Pauline's one of the country's finest exponents of Northumbrian pipery and here she's backed dexterously by Phil Cunningham, David Wood, Ciaran Boyle and Christine Hanson on a series of expertly-gathered tune sets reflecting Pauline's recent research into archives and manuscript collections. Vital, sensitive and an absolute delight from start to finish.

Review - New Tyne Bridge
Tykes News, 2005

The lovely Pauline should need no introduction to Tykes' readers; she's usually seen gigging in tandem with the perennially beaming fiddle maestro Tom McConville, but here she treats us to a new solo CD with no fiddle in earshot! Of course, with so many years of virtuoso piping under her belt, the last twelve of them as a professional musician, no further proof should be needed that Pauline's one of the country's finest exponents of Northumbrian pipery. She's rapidly gained a reputation for expanding the repertoire of the pipes and has been involved in stimulating new projects, while for the past three years her post as Research Fellow at Sheffield University has enabled her to further examine and explore performance style and repertoire issues. All this has culminated in the release of New Tyne Bridge, which includes many of her favourites among the tunes she's unearthed in her recent research into archives and manuscript collections.

I'd imagine (though Pauline's wonderfully detailed booklet notes don't specify the fact) that the majority of the tunes chosen for performance on this CD might be première recordings (but I wouldn't claim to have in-depth knowledge of this repertoire!). Pauline's technique is precise and exacting yet far from soulless, for her playing is at once breathtakingly exciting (there are some incredibly tricky rhythms to negotiate in these tunes!) and highly musical. One might argue that it's so richly textured in itself that it needs no accompaniment, but here she's backed selectively and most dextrously by (in various permutations) Phil Cunningham, Dave Wood, Ciaran Boyle and Christine Hanson on around two-thirds of the 16 tracks (the rest are purely solo excursions). Pauline has clearly made every effort to present an appetisingly balanced menu in terms of pace, mood and texture, and with such vital, sensitive and abundantly tasteful playing from all participants there's no trace of cloistered academic sterility, so New Tyne Bridge can only be described as an absolute delight from start to finish.

David Kidman