Catrin Finch and Seckou Keita

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For all the harp hating I intimated previously, now my protestations are a flimsy, hollow impossibility. But can I please still retain my harp-misgivings if I explain how this Senegalese man, Seckou Keita, brings a warm, cyclic effusion to this duet and how this Welsh woman, Catrin Finch, plays so delightfully into and around the rhythm which, yes, does contain the very grime I have said this instrument lacks.

Before the flames befall me, strictly, Seckou Keita plays the kora which I am assured is more like a lute and it achieves its bottom end thanks to a resonating body. Nevertheless the kora’s harp-like auditory quality is clear and I feel the need to get this off my chest.

Can I further draw your attention to the way this piece contains sound – not just composition? It contains rhythm – if not funk – and harmony with the husky textures of wood and strings. I’m usually pretty happy to forego melody for all that but to also find that here, calling me closer in refrain, yet living within the texture – that sort of thing makes me listen again. It makes me fret I’ll repeat it too often and wear out my wonder, deny my future self this same abandon.

As they reach the middle of the performance, I see how they are getting into it. Look at them grinning like they just shared a joke. When I watch, I see them taken away from their fingers and technique, forgetting everything but the moment and being surprised and delighted by what they find in that moment, even as they themselves create it for us all.

Towards the conclusion of the piece, things embolden in an anthematic and ever rising cycle that warms me more than the sun. This is not what I had come to expect from the harp.


Catrin Finch plays Claire de Lune by Debussy

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After the last harp video I posted it’s a statement I find increasingly hard to defend, but I don’t necessarily like the harp, per se. It lacks grime. But this … this it transcendent. This performance of one of my all time favourite pieces of sublime music literally brings tears to the eye.

 


Bach on Harp

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Check this rendition of Johann’s monster tune Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. To my admittedly amateur ear Amy Turk smashes this. I sometimes find the soft yet nasal harp a little too knitted-vest-and-sensible-socks, slightly too white roses and not quite enough motorcycle leather but this one has me quite entranced.

It reminds me I need to go sniff out some more Autechre and Aphex Twin performances on acoustic instruments.