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Fflach Tradd CD370H á

Mistress of the Welsh triple harp, Ms Rhydderch presents melodies from the 16th to the 19th centuries, all traditional and many used for songs but rendered wordless on Sir Fôn Bach. There are surprisingly detailed notes, apparently by special request, in Welsh and English, otherwise I would know little about this material. As you might expect of Welsh music, and of folk songs in general, there is an air of sadness and loss in much of the music here: Titrwm Tatrwm is a song of homesickness, Beth Yw'r Haf i Mi? tells of lost love, and Loath To Depart needs no explanation. There are lighter pieces here too, as well as the heavyweight Dychwelyd which seems almost classical.

The exceptional resonance and bell-like sound of this three-course wire-strung harp provide a big complex sound, wonderful for the more mournful songs but difficult to manage for faster dance music. Llio plays everything here with apparent ease, whether on the flowing Yr Hufen Melyn, the formal Carolan-like Consét y Pipar Coch, or the jauntier Mathafarn and Wedi Gwirioni. There is not as much bass to these arrangements as in modern Scots or Irish harping, but the triple harp lends itself to duets and countermelodies harmonising in the treble range. If you enjoy this album, check out Llio's earlier recordings which offer both traditional and contemporary Welsh harp music.

Alex Monaghan


This review appeared in Issue 132 of The Living Tradition magazine