REVIEWS ON THE CD
Real words by real people who have written to the website with their honest reviews after hearing the recording:
Yes, I did get your CD. I'm used to "lovely", yet over-produced harp recordings that are lush, but not necessarily much more than that. Alchemy has a very mysterious, haunting, sometimes dark, often sparsely-produced quality to it that actually allows the harp to stand out. And so much of it is playful and self-affirming as well (self-affirming in that the music sort of lifts you up). As I was listening, it seemed more and more like I was listening to the wire harp as It was probably played long ago, not a commercialized pretty picture, but a whole feeling that I was hearing music for a moment through a window of time.
Omygosh, Cynthia - your new CD is absolutely beautiful. It shines like a multi-faceted diamond with many different hues, always sparkling, always fascinating. It knocked my socks off! And my 14-year-old highland snare drummer son, who has no taste whatsoever absolutely loved it! The highest compliment you could get! GREAT JOB!!!! I really loved your Brian Boru's March - took that old chestnut to new heights!!
I just finished listening to your new CD and I loved what you did with Brian Boru! The rest of it is great too, but I wanted to tell you about Brian Boru. Great job!
Folks, this CD is no little collection of jigs and reels. There are a fair number of tunes that are purely wire-strung harp, but also some selections with an interesting use of percussion and other instruments. It's good to know that the arrangements are in "From My Music Stand." So, when is the next one coming out? You can't stop with just one. Oooh. Brian Boru is up. Good one, Cynthia.
Thank you for your remarkable CD (and for signing it!). I've been listening to several Celtic harp CD's, but I was not prepared for your sound. It's a bigger and richer sound. I don't know why that is - the strings themselves, the studio you used or just the way you play - but it is a wonderful sound.
I also noticed what I think is a difference in the way you play separate voices. Some of the Celtic harp CDs I liked had a second instrument playing a second voice - another harp or a wire-strung guitar, but it sounded like you were playing the second voice yourself. That lower voice beautifully defines the range of the music (does this sound like a cellist talking?) and somehow makes the whole sound richer and more powerful - no music-box tinkling sound here....
I hope this isn't getting tedious for you, but I have to add that your Brian Boru stopped me in my tracks. I recognized the sound of the didjuridu, but certainly hadn't expected it. As I listened, I read through your liner notes, cried, and played the whole piece again. Remarkable.
Cynthia Cathcart is one of the world's experts on the Clarsach. Performing and teaching for various audiences, she is a leader in the new wave of interest in the wire-strung harp. She represents Ardival harps of Strathpeffer, Scotland and is their North American Artist in Residence. Professional harper, two time and current U.S. National Scottish Harp Master Champion, 2002 Oberlin Ohio master Harp Champion, 1998 North American Senior Amateur Scottish Harp Champion, three time winner of the Clan Lamont Trophy and holder of the Jan Pennington-Grey Award, Cynthia Cathcart is a leading authority on the ancient Wire Strung Harp, or Clarsach, of Ireland and the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music in Piano Performance from Hood College.
Based near Washington, DC, Cynthia began her harp career quite by accident, when she inherited a wire-strung harp. After dusting off years of neglect that had gathered on the harp, she began to teach herself how to play. Or, more to the truth, the harp began to teach Cynthia with that mystical voice an instrument employs when it finds a musician destined to play it. The fit was natural, as were Cynthia's abilities to research and rediscover the repertoire and the authentic technique of playing the wire strung harp with the fingernails. Her rapid climb to being counted among the foremost players of the Clarsach is but an extension on her firm foundation as a classically trained pianist and organist.
A reviewer from a recent concert wrote, "When Cynthia began her portion of the program I had the impression of fine china. Very satisfying sound! I really liked the way her pieces flowed from one to the other, and the stories she told, partly in words, partly with her instruments."
Check out the artist's website:
1. Miss Proud's Reel
2. Sir John Fenwick is the Flower of Them All
3. Seaforth Highlanders/Lord Seaforth's Strathspey/Lord MacDonald's
4. Mist Covered Mountains
5. I Love My Jean
6. They Stole My Wife Last Night/Pease Strae/The Prince's Welcome I
7. An Elegy on Rob Roy McGregor
8. The Chanter's Tune
9. Blair Athole
11. A Lament for Her Husband and Child
12. Lachlann Dubh
13. Ferintosh/The Bedding of the Bride/Off She Goes
14. The Top of Ben Lomond
15. New Claret
16. Doctor Ross's 50th Welcome to the Argyllshire Gathering
17. Brian Boru
18. Edward Corcoran/Mrs. Crawford of Donside
19. The Banks o' Clyde