Various Artists

Masters of the Harp

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A collection of various harp musics from around the world, this album attempts to cover all major harp traditions within the space of an hour. Roughly half of the artists featured hail from the ARC stables, with the other half being licensed work from the various labels involved. The focus is relatively more on the European end of the spectrum, but other cultures are also represented. Welsh and Celtic harps dominate the whole of the album, providing the opening in Robin Huw Bowen's arrangement of a piece for the Welsh triple harp. A Chinese piece follows, making the largest geographic distinction possible. The album then showcases its first bit of Celtic harp with a piece from Triskell. Galician music from Spain is represented by Emilio Cao, and then the album returns to Celtic harps, with a 30-string used by Robin Williamson in a piece from his Music for Macbeth album and a folk harp used by Golden Bough's Margie Butler. After another Galician outing, the divine Paraguayan harp is presented by Oscar Benito. After two runs through the realm of the classical harp, the album moves to Ravi, a multicultural performer using an electric kora to present a light, pensive number. Alfredo Ortiz provides another look at the Paraguayan harp, and the album finishes on Alan Stivell playing the Breton harp, an instrument lost since the Dark Ages and rediscovered/built by Stivell's father. The only really notable omissions here are that of the Burmese harp, a major tradition in its own right, and perhaps a more traditional kora performance. Despite this, though, the album puts forward some decent examples of a huge variety of harp traditions. For a multinational look at the use of a number of relatively similar instruments in entirely different contexts by masters of the various forms, this album would be a fine way to start.

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