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Tambourine TAMCD002

Released in 2011, this is the second album release by this Japanese harp player following Spirited Harp in 2006. Subtitled Irish Harp, with reference to her chosen instrument, made by Paddy Cafferky from County Galway, it comprises arrangements of sets of Irish and Scottish tunes for solo harp.

Born and now resident in Japan where she teaches harp, Sayaka started her playing before her teens. Its development owes much to visits to festivals in Europe and North America that led to personal tuition from harpers such as Philip Boulding, William Jackson, Patsy Seddon and Laoise Kelly. Kathleen Loughnane’s teaching also contributed to Sayaka’s very evidently accomplished playing during a period of residence in Ireland.

This choice compilation embraces reels, jigs, slow airs, slip jigs, hornpipes, waltzes and instrumental forms of The Skye Boat Song and Ae Fond Kiss. Traditional material is assembled with pieces widely derived from the works of O’Carolan, Junior Crehan, Thomas Walsh, Gráinne Hambly, Michael Rooney, June McCormack, Michael McGoldrick, Solas and Lasairfhiona Ni Chonaola. The two slow airs An Draigheann (Peadar Ó Riada) and The Wild Geese (Kathleen Loughnane) are deeply attractive and particularly moving.

Beautifully recorded with clean and clear chiming notes, rich in treble and middle frequencies, the arrangements display amply dynamic interest in their interplay of melodies and bass patterns. Exquisitely paced, with lots of airy space for the delightful ringing and resonant qualities of the instrument, the overall mood is gentle, elegant and sensitive. Unless I’m mistaken some of Sayaka’s own breathing is occasionally audible but somehow even adds to the spellbinding passion and almost palpable pleasure of the music.

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 96 of The Living Tradition magazine.