St Mary's Cathedral,
Edinburgh, was the setting for this live recording of the harp world's
most accomplished players - all participants in the 23rd Edinburgh International
Harp Festival in April 2004. Corrina Hewat produced this, the first commercial
recording in the Festival's history, with Scottish Arts Council funding.
The sound is excellent (credit to Dave Gray); it does full justice to
the magnificent acoustic setting and the harp's bright resonance. There's
huge tonal and rhythmic variety throughout the album, and here you'll
find dance tunes, slip jigs, slow airs, puirt-a-beul, chant melodies,
strathspeys and reels. Here too is an amazing range of harps: electro-acoustic
pedal, wire strung Celtic; Welsh, Scottish, Gaelic and Irish harps, and,
of course the Clarsach. More exotic still are the Arpa de Dos Ordenes,
a cross-strung chromatic harp from Spain, and the Paraguayan harp.
The additional acoustic instrumentation on tracks by Crasdant, Calluna,
Isobel Mieras and Cliar (fiddle, guitar, flute, and piano) lends oceans
of vivacity. Park Stickney/Rudiger Oppermann give 'Butterfly/Metamorphosis'
the jazz treatment on pedal and wire-strung harp. Kike Pederson plays
'Duende De La Selva' with lyricism and elegance on Paraguayan harp. Nuria
Llopis Areny performs a dark, intense composition. There are some beautifully
lyrical pieces by Karen Marshalsay, Grainne Hambly, and Ann & Charlie
Eddie McGuire's excellent commission for clarsach and organ, 'Parallel
Dimensions,' is over 15 minutes long and the climax to this album; its
heavily improvised opening builds into a vivacious dance tune. Catriona
McKay and Simon Nieminski excel here - I have a mental image of these
two musicians having lots of physical space between them whilst performing
This is the perfect opportunity to hear the tonal permutations of the
harp in imaginative arrangements - it's an inspiring, beautiful recording
which offers much listening pleasure.