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SHARON CARROLL - The Irish Harp: A Journey In Time

SHARON CARROLL - The Irish Harp: A Journey In Time
Private Label

Sharon Carroll is in her own words “a passionate harpist” and the Newry native’s second album offers a travelogue of the harp and displays her affection of her chosen instrument. It efforts to chart the role of the harp in Irish history and document the main eras in which the harp flourished, and also the repertoire common to the harp menu at the time (without resorting to over-emphasis on academia at the expense of the music itself).

Historically, the role of the travelling harpers has been established with revivals of the work of Cornelius Lyons and Turlough O’Carolan, and the well-known Molly McAlpine, Eleanor Plunkett and Sí Beag Sí Mór are well-starred as choices and performances here.

An interesting development in the decline of the harp as social instrument for a travelling composer and its role in a semi-classical setting, such as those favoured by Thomas Moore in his Moore’s Melodies, is evidenced by The Last Rose Of Summer, which is given a lovely reading by Clara Wilson to Sharon’s accompaniment. The use of the harp as a lead instrument in playing reels and jigs in traditional settings is also acknowledged with tunes such as Janet Harbison’s Walk In Belfast, Dearbhail’s Choice (two settings of jigs by Dearbhail Finnegan) and an ensemble version of Tommy Potts’ immortal The Butterfly. One piece of new vintage is The Lonely Harp - a lament by Tom Wilson, suitably mournful in tone.

The project is well documented and packaged, with historical footnotes and period photos and illustrations adding to the musical kudus displayed on the disc. While it’s not exactly progressive or radical in nature, its narrative stance highlights the longevity and strength of the harp repertoire through the centuries.

John O’Regan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 124 of The Living Tradition magazine.