Various Northumberland Rant

The lyrical “Archie’s Fancy/Holey Ha’penny” opens this anthology of 21 instrumental performances. It’s the first of 13 a cappella examples of the Northumbrian small pipes, a miniature hand-squeezed bagpipe that sounds like a cross between the Scottish bagpipes and an accordion. This first performance is an astonishingly lovely display by virtuoso Billy Pigg who also impresses in “Skye Crofters,” “There’s Nae Guid Luck about the House/High Level Hornpipe” and “Border Spirit.” Chris Ormston, Jack Amstrong, Anthony Robb, Pauline Cato, Joe Hutton and Colin Ross also make rich music on this unique instrument, although only Anthony Robb’s multi-tracked “Lament for Ian Dickson” and Kathryn Tickell’s quartet performance of “Mr. Nelson’s Birthday Waltz” can equal the magic of Billy Pigg’s opening piece. Northumberland Rant offers rich documentation from a remote region of England on the Northeast Coast and border with Scotland. (Smithsonian Folkways)