“Stephen Wood describes his piano arrangements of well-known traditional Scots and Gaelic tunes as a ‘labour of love’, and it seems that both labour and love have paid handsome dividends over the years: his work has won appreciation and accolades in many different contexts, from classrooms and courses to concerts and competitions. Rightly so – for they combine clarity and sensitivity to the original melodies with harmonies and melodic structures which belong firmly to the 21st century. They also reflect his own eclectic musical taste – but discreetly and always with respect. Our beautiful melodies are in safe hands with Stephen Wood."
“With today’s growing emphasis on traditional music in schools and colleges, and piano/keyboards featuring unabashed alongside the harps, accordeons and guitars of today’s vibrant, multi-instrumental, largely improvisatory Scottish folk scene, there seems little doubt that arrangements such as these will continue to be of value in introducing young players to the genre and encouraging them to take the next steps towards finding their own sounds."
Anne Lorne Gillies, singer, writer, broadcaster. October 2014.
The rich and enormously varied feast that is traditional Scottish Music offers considerable inspiration and enrichment, not only for singers, but for all musicians; we simply need sensitive and capable musicians who have the ability and passionate energy to transcribe, arrange and distribute arrangements into the instrumental domain. Stephen Wood’s beautiful collection of nineteen transcriptions for solo piano comes from three much larger series of reels, jigs, strathspeys, marches and airs. His work is distinctively practical and immediate, but in this current offering never ventures beyond the grade 6-7 mark. Wood’s work has been the result of specific commissions and requests from Scottish musicians, but it is hoped that the music will travel a little further and enter the repertoire of international young players - certainly, there is sufficient quality and characterisation in the collection to merit a wider playing field. Though some of the numbers are nearer grade 3 than grade 6 (e.g. the charmingly understated The Sea Mew and A Fairy Lullaby), a love of pianistic beauty and elegance always shines through. Wood knows how to set off a melodic line so that the harmony does not interfere with the organic beauty it adorns. I loved the parallel sixths in Sleep on till Day, as well as the lilting charming of The Atholl Highlanders, as well as the stabilising pedal-point low notes in My Home. But it is in the most well-known tunes that Wood perhaps comes into his own the most: Amazing Grace (hovering around grade 6 in terms of technical demands) swerves charmingly into a jazz waltz for some of the time, and the Skye Boat Song is laid out with arpeggiated tactile delights that celebrate the glory of piano colour. Auld Lang Syne, at the end, is delightfully unpredictable, with many a surprising harmony that will keep listener and player alike on their toes. Warmly recommended!
Murray McLachlan, concert pianist, teacher and writer. EPTA's Piano Professional magazine, February 2015.
“Excellent innovative arrangements. The beautiful melodies are treated with great sensitivity but there are also cheeky little tongue in cheek, jazzy details…It will be ideal for piano teachers looking for more variety and a change from the classics for their pupil’s repertoire.”
Maggie Macrae, The Living Tradition.