This review is written by Dai Woosnam, firstname.lastname@example.org, 6/03
This is not the easiest CD to review, as it is an album consisting wholly of solo instrumental harp music. Before I come to the “meat” of the thing, let me talk about the less important “two veg”! By this I mean, the marketing/ packaging.) The album’s liner notes are worthy of comment.
The truth is that whilst aesthetically the words imprinted on a photo background look great, the fact is however, they were so hard to read. Yes, I know this is my usual moan. I look for readable CD liner booklets, with capital letters (none of the lower case trendy stuff that leads to confusion) and well-written notes. Since the advent of the CD, liner notes have deteriorated. In the old days of the LP, prospective buyers could read them, and thus the notes were seen as a real selling aid, so had to be top-drawer.
Now that they are hidden from view inside the shrink-wrap, artistes have become more self-indulgent and standards have dropped.
Here the notes are perfectly respectable. But the big bonus with this CD is a free DVD to accompany it, and that mainly takes the form of a film of Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island). This DVD is, like Bardsey Island itself, something of a landmark. It represents the first Welsh traditional music DVD.
So the “two veg” over, let’s get down to the meat: the CD itself. My giddy aunt! What an authoritative display of a mastery of her instrument. And how well she evokes a spirit of PLACE with her self-penned pieces.
I swear to God that as I was listening to the CD in one ear, the late poet and priest R.S.Thomas popped up in my other ear with his bleak – but somehow never depressing - poems that like Rhydderch’s music here, are so inextricably linked to this strange and haunting landscape of the Lleyn Peninsula.
It is fair to say that the album is probably for harp enthusiasts or Celtic museums, bookshops etc to play as superior Muzak. Or maybe for expatriate Welsh (like me) who want to feed their feeling of “hiraeth” (intense longing) for the home country. The fact that the CD lacks a human singing voice would seem to limit its general appeal.
All that said however, one might add that this is Rhydderch’s third
album for this label – so she must be doing SOMETHING right! - and
she will surely not make a better one.
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