Album: Matt Tighe
Label: Greentrax Recordings
London based Matt Tighe fell in love with the violin after hearing Nigel Kennedy’s version of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons and admitted that he became quite obsessed with it and decided ‘That’s what I want to do’. His father said that young Matt had nagged and nagged about learning the violin, and learned quickly so he didn’t sound like a ‘screeching cat’ for too long!
Practicing classical technique almost every day gave him a very solid foundation as he explored his other love, traditional Irish and Scottish fiddle tunes. This led to a performance at Cambridge Folk Festival and becoming a semi-finalist at the BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Awards.
Now studying Classical Performance at London’s Trinity Laban Conservatoire, the depth of his classical training shows in the stunning quality and musicality of his traditional fiddle playing. ‘Meantime’ is the first track of his eponymously titled album, which bursts instantly into life with fiddle and band in full foot stomping mode, then into a slower mid-section, and then a final full-on blast of instrumental wizardry.
The track ‘Minsteracers’ is an atmospherically acoustic masterpiece that might have TV film music producers reaching for their phones. The quality of phrasing and timing of Matt’s playing during slower tempo pieces certainly reveals his classical grounding. ‘Port Na Bpucai’ is a sparce, haunting and elegiac piece of pure solo playing, every note and nuance to be savoured… absolute perfection. Following after four more superbly played pieces by Matt and the band, ‘Clancy’s’ is a perfect finale to the ten track album, one of those tunes that would have a pub or bar audience on the floor dancing at the end of a good evening of conversation, drinking and music.
I hope very much that Nigel Kennedy, the man who inspired Matt gets to hear this album. I too found Kennedy’s Four Seasons inspiring when years ago I lived in wildest West Wales and I took up the violin and after hearing visiting Irish fiddlers in local pubs, I tried traditional playing. I was total rubbish, and my wife begged me to try repairing and restoring violins instead of torturing them. I obeyed… and got to repair many fiddles, and so got to listen to many fine fiddlers in my home.
The beauty of failure is that it can create a far greater appreciation for those who can master and perfect an instrument, and for me, having had just a glimpse of how fiddle playing feels, a very much greater joy in listening to that perfection. After listening many times to Matt’s superb debut album, I like to dream of Matt and Nigel one day sharing the stage together for a few moments of pure violin magic.