Private Label PRF2016CD
The debut album from Helensburgh based Scottish clarsach virtuoso Pippa Reid-Foster is a delightful body of inventive contemporary music showcasing the tonal palettes of her Mark Norris and Starfish Glencoe harps to outstanding effect.
Two pleasing jig sets (involving arrangements of material by Michael McGoldrick, piper Finlay MacDonald and fiddler Rona Wilkie) are subtly seated in amidst a strong sequence of self-composed material that pivots on the exquisitely harmonic studded and richly textured beauty of centrepiece Elements 1.
Ambient and atmospheric throughout, Pippa’s arrangements utilise harp techniques and sonic capabilities to realise a rich tonal poetry. Solitude, for example, is keenly evoked in a rendition of traditional Gaelic song Oran Na Maighdinn Mhara (The Mermaid Song); likewise, dreaminess in a hypnotic piece about tragic folkloric Irish characters Deirdre and Naois, which again uses space and harmonics to captivating effect. Elsewhere, by contrast, the rhythmic thrum of steam powered ‘Puffer’ boats plying the Crinan canal and frenetic herring port activity are imaginatively invoked.
Tinged and echoic with elements of Celtic and traditional music, classical grace and modern musicality abound, fully exploiting the massive tonal opportunities available in recording and layering harp, with resonance and dynamic variety particularly skilfully employed. Sparkling, scintillating and shimmering at the high end, often using plucked harmonics to arresting effect, the lower frequencies have deftly judged middle and bass frequencies in their complement.
Often magical and mesmeric, this is a model example of the ingenious use of solo harp music to evoke moods and impressions through creative soundscapes.
Kevin T. Ward