The Uncommon Harp ~ harpyness

Saturday, 29 January 2011

The Uncommon Harp

It was great to see so many harpists at the premier of Graham Fitkin's Concerto for midi harp this week.

I finally got to meet Graham's partner Ruth Wall, who has a really lovely solo harp CD that she released in 2004. All the music is performed on a 33 string lever harp built by Mark Norris and it is a CD of new accessible tonal music.

My personal favourites are the Farewell to Stromness by Peter Maxwell Davies, Opening by Philip Glass, and The Peninsula Run by Ruth Wall.

Two Movements for Small Harp by Laurence Crane is a bit too minimal for my liking, the 2nd movement especially so, but it does open up a good debate which I think is a problem that besets most harp music.

Because of the natural decay in sound when you pluck a harp string, I think there is a tendency to want to "fill up" the gaps left in what would be sustained notes if played on any other instrument. When in fact it is good to hear the gaps/silences between the plucked notes. Personally I feel there are perhaps too many "gaps" for me in this piece but maybe I'll grow to like this piece more?

All in all a very enjoyable and inspiring CD!

So much so I've just bought the sheet music for the Maxwell Davies and I might even have a go and try it out on my lever harp instead of my concert harp...

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