Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh

Mr Menuhin’s Delight. A special concert as part of the Edinburgh International Festival.



Reviewed in the Scotsman on 15 August 1985 by Alastair Clark.

Reviewing the concert in the New Statesman on 25 August 1985 Angus Calder wrote:

“MacDairmid wished Scottish culture to live in a modern and international ambience. One afternoon at Queen’s Hall, Yehudi Menuhin met the Whistlebinkies, a folk band, and six fiddlers expert in different styles. Mr Menuhin’s Delight triumphed because it was so nearly a cockup. Audience and performers were delighted by a common fear of disaster. The Beeb, recording the event, had failed to provide technology to ensure that Menuhin’s conversations about technique with other artists could be heard in all sections. The compere kept fluffing and some of the fiddlers looked frightened by the occassion. But they playedgloriously. Ron Gonella’s suavely beautiful tone contrasted with Bob Hopkirk’s bagpipe-influenced style and the great Aly Bain’s fierce Norse-Shetland virtuosity. The occassion became historic when Edna Arthur played with supreme skill and intensity a magnificent pibroch dating back to 1526, transcriped for the fiddle in the late 18th century.

Whistlebinkies’ flautist. Eddie McGuire, is also Scotland’s leading avant-garde composer (and left-wing with it). The final item was a new slow air and reel written by him for Sir Yehudi. All the performers assembled to participate. the great man, due to lead off, fluffed on the first note, said sorry, and lunged on at once like a small child performning at its first school concert. The piece was fine, the applause was tumultuous; Menuhin played much better in the encore. I felt I was hearing the feudal past being ferried across to the socialist future. Elated, I went out into another torrential downpor. God really doesn’t like to see Scotland getting too big for its boots – or, rather, growing into bigger ones.”