THE SCOTSMAN • JIM GILCHRIST • THE ARCHES, GLASGOW ****
SAVOURNA Stevenson has developed an utterly distinctive and inventive harp sound, its Scottish roots infused with eclectic elements, resulting in lithe, jazz inflections or richly toned, impressionistic languor.
She was clearly delighted to be teaming up with two of the superb Marseilles-based Iranian percussionist family, the Chemiranis, and the results were frequently exhilarating. A lengthy percussion duet demonstrated the Chemiranis’ razor-sharp interaction and the multi-voiced chatter of their drums, before the ensemble, joined by double-bassist Brian Shiels and Gaelic singer Alyth McCormack, presented Persian Knight and Celtic Dawn, Stevenson’s settings of the words of the Lebanese poet and philosopher Kahlil Gibran (some of it translated into Gaelic by Aonghas MacNeacail).
These made for eloquent lyrics, sensitively set and beautifully sung by McCormack (with the ensemble joined briefly by a second harpist, June Naylor).
Other effective instrumental pieces included the raga-like Emily’s Calling, with a single drum whirring alongside the harp, and Stevenson’s stealthy chiming over thrumming drums and bass in Time.
This was frequently beguiling music, delicate and intricate as fretwork but, between the rumble of passing trains and the intrusively noisy crowd allowed into the adjoining space, the Arches wasn’t the best place to appreciate it. Was that a dramatic flourish of Iranian drumming, or just the 8:15 for Wemyss Bay?