Bellevue Rendezvous – While Rome Burns

Album Review | Journeyman | Review by Liam Wilkinson | Stars: 4/5

With their wide repertoire of European tunes and a uniquely attractive sound, Scottish trio Bellevue Rendezvous make a welcome return with this impressive third album. While Rome Burns consists of ten instrumentals with such alluring titles as “Vals etter Sigurd Aalmen”, “Hvit Marsj” and “Hicazkar Sirto” as well as other such evocative names as “Piping the Fish”, “The European Dream” and “Source of the Spey”. The music is just as handsome as the titles suggest, especially as the trio rely on such instruments as the Swedish nyckelharpa and cittern, along with fiddle and guitar to create their crisp and shimmering sound. Gavin Marwick, the trio’s fiddler, provides the opening track “Smoke and Mirrors”, a darkly pensive tune which he wrote “a while ago, somewhere in Europe” and one that segues neatly into the optimistic charm of “Mozaik”, penned by the trio’s guitarist Cammy Robson. This beautiful opening gives way to a series of tunes from Galicia, Norway and Finland, showcasing Ruth Morris’s nyckelharpa and including the traditional “Onga Bucharesti”, a stirring wedding reel that was introduced to the trio by De Dannan’s Andy Statman. Gavin’s compositional artistry returns soon, however, with the notably Scottish-flavoured set of tunes “Piping the Fish” (Marwick), “Source of the Sprey” (Trad) and “The Unicorn” (Marwick), each providing a subtly spellbinding, dreamlike prelude to Marwick’s political twosome Nero’s and “The European Dream” which present a rousing ‘fiddler’s eye view of world events’. With one foot entrenched in the Scottish folk tradition but all other limbs reaching enthusiastically into the rest of Europe, Bellevue Rendezvous deliver an album of distinct optimism, joy and musical unity with While Rome Burns, and one that will insist on taking you along for the ride.