Llio Rhydderch (Welsh Triple Harp)/The Harp Consort
 22nd Edinburgh International Harp Festival Concert Series



Pat Napier. 18 April 2003

Music Rhydderch: Pieces from her Enlli suite and traditional Welsh melodies. Harp Consort: Juan Cabanilles: Corrente Italiana; Mudarra: Fantasia de Luduvico; Anon (17th cent. Peru): Marizapalos; Lucas Ruiz de Ribayaz (fl. 1677): Luz y Norte - El Gran Duque, - Galliarda, - Chaconas, - Paradetas; Luis Milán: Fantasia de consonancias y redobles; Diego Fernández: Xácara - Tres Moricas; Mecano (20th century pop group): Hijo de la luna; John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin bass guitarist): Al son de los arroyuelos, So ell encina; Luys de Narvaez: Diferencias - Guardáme las vacas; Francisco Repilado (Máximo Francisco Repilado Muñoz b.18 November 1907): Chan Chan
Performers Llio Rhydderch (Welsh triple harp); The Harp Consort: Clara Sanabras (soprano, baroque guitar), Steven Player (dancer, baroque guitar), Andrew Lawrence-King (Spanish baroque harp, Director)
Date 15 April 2003
Venue Merchiston Castle School Theatre
 Address Colinton Road, Edinburgh
 Reviewer Pat Napier

Programmes are a rarity at the Edinburgh International Harp Festival concerts, so to have one for this concert was a bit of a novelty - and a shock. We all thought that we'd come to hear that great and much-loved Welsh triple harpist Llio Rydderch but the programme indicated that the "support band", The Harp Consort, appeared to have the lion's share, with Llio Rhydderch's contribution appearing thus:

Llio Rydderch - INTERVAL - Llio Rhydderch. Very odd!

All was made clear right at the start. The Harp Consort would open and close. Llio Rydderch had chosen to play before and after the interval so that she had the necessary time to retune her magnificent, tall harp. Here's the reason: the Welsh triple harp has no pedals, relying instead on three sets of strings to provide the harmonics. The two outer sets are tuned in unison; the central strings are tuned to give the chromatic notes. Up to five octaves are available. When played, the sound is magical, very spiritual and totally haunting. The triple harp dates from the early 17th century, having come from 16th century Italy.

Llio Rhydderch, taught by the great Nansi Richards, stands in the ancient line of Welsh harpers going back to the 6th century. She played around a dozen pieces in all. She lives and breathes the music of her native Anglesey and is immersed in all its history and spiritual traditions and of the Llyn Peninsula. Her deep response to all this and to the haunting beauty of the landscape poured out in her music, many of the pieces being her own compositions. She began with the first two pieces from her Enlli suite and later, the seventh of which was - in English - The Ash Grove. I'm afraid that my Welsh, being non-existent, couldn't cope with the names. Enlli is Ynas Enlli, Bardsey Island, a place of pilgrimage since the 5th century where, legend says, 20,000 saints lie buried. These pieces set the mood for a very spiritual musical experience. The whole of this haunting music was played in a clear, unadorned Baroque style which showed the harp off in a magnificent way. Closed eyes transported the mind straight to a deep connection with the landscape. Sighs and smiles of satisfaction all round at the end! Her encore, a seaside piece, skillfully reset the mood for The Harp Consort's last session.