Heliotrope Bouquet Review
by Carilyn Vice
California Traditional Music Society
September-December 1994
Volume 11, Number 1

If anyone has ever heard Sue Carpenter perform in person, they know her high energy and enthusiasm is carried through into her playing. The recording, “Heliotrope Bouquet,” is no exception, and offers a nice collection of songs, fast and slow, and oldies, but goodies, along with five original pieces. All recordings are strictly instrumental.

Sue’s arrangements on mountain dulcimer are lovely and not overpowered by accompaniment from other instruments. Her playing is clear and concise and she uses a fine combination of chords along with long runs of individually picked notes. Favorites that have been recorded by many include “Southwind” and “Scarborough Fair” and yet I didn’t find myself saying, “Here goes another recording of this.” “When You Wish Upon a Star” uses outstanding chord patterns and the cello accompaniment is lovely. As far as the recording of “Ashokan Farewell” by Jay Ungar, how can this not be a favorite of everyone? It is combined and interwoven with “Dixie.” Sue takes an original artistic approach in recording her songs and she must have had fun recording these. The use of the shaker egg in the background gets your foot tapping in “Summer Decl-Adence” and the opening cat yowls recorded in “Homeless Siamese” convinced me it was a Siamese cat before I read the song title. The ending of the song is clever, but you have to find out for yourself how it ends. The rhythm in “Hallelujah Hoedown” is interesting, and she notes it’s inspiration was from Handel’s famous chorus.

“Heliotrope Bouquet” was most enjoyable, both as background music and also when I sat still long enough to concentrate on each song.