Clarsach swings across some new frontiers
By Alastair Clark
I enthused – necessarily briefly – over Springthyme Record’s ‘Tickled Pink’, featuring Savourna Stevenson, in my best-of-the-year selection a fortnight ago. Frequent listening have done absolutely nothing to alter my view that this is a superb clarsach album, worth anybody’s money – one in which an ancient instrument is thrillingly coaxed towards and across new musical frontiers.
Savourna Stevenson has presented not only arrangements of traditional tunes but also a number of her own compositions, and it is these, borne on the wings of enviable technical dexterity and outstanding musicianship, that provide the most memorable moments. Her ‘Lament for a Blind Harper’ where fiddler Aly Bain makes one of several knowing and telling contributions, is quite simply one of the most beautiful pieces of music I have heard in the past year.
Her ‘Jalan’, a deliciously bright, prancing tune in which she makes full use of her particular penchant for ebb-and-flow and light-and-shade contrast, is a joy from start to finish. And her ‘Tickled Pink’ is a waterfall of sweet, swinging sound.
Miss Stevenson also takes smoothly in her stride a testing array of traditional music, ranging from slow Scots airs to Irish jigs. She clearly finds that fast dance music holds no technical terrors: the fingers fly, and the music ripples along as if she were tinkering with a toy mandolin. Great Stuff…