I watched this on BBC4 when it was first shown about 3-4 years ago and loved it then, watching it now it is just as impressive, beautifully filmed, the atmosphere was captured perfectly, the quality of musicianship was outstanding, how Mary Ann Kennedy got all this talent together and producung the most fantasic music is amazing.
It introduced me to a lot of new musicians who I now follow and buy the CD's, BBC Alba tries hard to give a platform to new Scottish talent, but the mix of Scots and Irish was an education, and my CD collection has a lot of new sounds thanks to this series.
You will not be disappointed if you havent seen this before, and if you have, its just as good as you remember it :o)
If you enjoyed the Transatlantic Sessions (which I loved) think "more local" and just slightly more watchable.
I actually purchased a region-free DVD player so I could watch this DVD, after seeing some clips from it on Youtube. The setting in an old farmhouse in Scotland is very informal, and the musicians dress down and it just seems like they are a group of friends getting together to make music. It took me a while to realize that these are top, top performers in their field...making music together in a warm, cosy setting. They make it look casual and easy. Just a gem...if you like Irish and Scottish traditional music, this is a must-have.
I first encountered the Highland Sessions on YouTube, where most of the content of this DVD can be found. Nevertheless, I think buying the Sessions is a good move, if only because you can set it playing in the background for an afternoon and enjoy it seamlessly and vicariously. As to the quality of the music and performance, I can only imagine that it is superlative (not being a musician or an expert). It seems to me there is a genuine quality about the 'Sessions' that you might not find in an ordinary production. These people are the real thing, and as I have latterly discovered, famous in their respective fields. Likely to become a collector's item, I think.
Being a devotee of the Transatlantic Sessions series, and Celtic music, I thought "let's try this one". I'm not sorry...while it's all sung in the Gael (Irish or Scots) there's a joyous and mystical quality that is defintely worth a listen.
Instrumentally there are lot's of familiar faces among the players. Most have been on the Transatlantic series. Also many of the Singers, Karen Matheson among them.
Whether you understand the "Gael" or not, it's beautiful music. If you do understand the "Gael", then it'll be an even more enjoyable set.
The Highland Sessions is joy: cracking performances from a great line-up of musicians and songsters - Iarla O Lionard has to be a favourite - his voice is simply outstanding. A great variety here also: ballads; reels; airs; jigs; and plenty of songs - most are sung in Gaelic with some as macaronic Gaelic / English. It's a Celtic Feast!
These sessions probably took place long before the Transatlantic Sessions became a regular fixture for musicians on either side of the Atlantic. Comprising exclusively Irish and Scottish artists singing Gaelic, the filming and production is perhaps not as slick and shiny as the later Transatlantic Sessions dvds, but this set of songs, reels, jigs and laments, and the quality of musicianship on display is every bit as good. I have struggled to find music by some of the artists playing here anywhere else. Great value for money too - 6 programmes on one DVD; probably some 40 songs. If you like the Celtic side the Transatlantic, and would like to discover some real traditional treasures, this is a great place to start!