CD Review: Apollo’s Fire, "Sugarloaf Mountain, An Appalachian Gathering"


By Daniel Hathaway

When summer arrives, Apollo’s Fire lets its hair down and goes off to visit Baroque music’s country cousin — the music of Appalachian America. The ensemble’s previous show, “Come to the River,” now has a prequel: “Sugarloaf Mountain,” an equally irresistible collection of tunes from the old and new worlds chronicling the passage of immigrants from the British Isles to their new homes in the American south — in the shadow of Sugarloaf Mountain.

The new CD preserves last summer’s countryside concerts (“Glory on the Mountain”) under a new title. Once again, Jeannette Sorrell has gathered a splendid crew of singers and instrumentalists, including vocalists Amanda Powell and Ross Hauck, violinist (a.k.a. fiddler) Susanna Perry Gilmore, wooden-flute player Kathie Stewart, lutenist, guitarist, long-neck dulcimer player and vocalist Brian Kay, cellist René Schiffer, and hammered dulcimer player Tina Bergmann. While nobody would mistake this sophisticated, super-educated ensemble for a folk group, they wear their erudition lightly and take up their folksy material with infectious enthusiasm.

There’s a narrative that runs through the playlist — a prologue about the mountains of the old country, then crossing to the new world, settling in the dark mountains, partying at corn shucking time, loving and losing, faith and religion, and a grand finale, “Sugarloaf Mountain,” a retexting by Sorrell of the Scottish song, “The Mountains of Rhúm,” that opens the disc. Read the complete review on

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