Peiwoh: Music by Arianna Savall
LABELS: Alla Vox
WORKS: Music by Arianna Savall: Preghiera; El Ilenguatge dels ocells; Suite Celta; Cancións de la muerte pequeña; Peiwoh; Aurora etc
PERFORMER: Arianna Savall (voice, harp), Petter Johansen (voice, hardingfele), Ferran Savall (voice, theorbo), Javier Mas (acoustic guitar), Mario Mas (Spanish guitar), Bjørn Kjellemyr (violin), Dimitri Psonis (santur, bouzouki), Pedro Estevan & David Mayoral (percussion)
CATALOGUE NO: AV 9869
Peiwoh was the legendary prince of harpists in ancient China who was the only musician capable of playing a harp made from the giant Kiri tree. He attributed this ability to his willingness to let the harp choose its own themes: ‘I knew not truly whether the harp had been Peiwoh or Peiwoh were the harp.’ The music they made could change the seasons and affect the natural world.
Sadly, this exquisitely and sumptuously packaged album contains no elementally powerful music. Arianna Savall, daughter of early music luminaries, gamba player Jordi Savall and singer Montserrat Figueras, is an accomplished performer on several types of harp and has a charming enough voice, but her singing style and her songs are essentially middle-of-the-road pop in approach. Her instrumental compositions are more interesting, but the arrangements of traditional Celtic tunes sound ironed-out, both harmonically and melodically.
It gives me no pleasure to write such an unappreciative review. This album has clearly had a great deal of dedication and love put into it, and Savall has thought carefully about how best to convey the various moods and traditions she wished to represent, but it failed to move me emotionally or engage me with its technical qualities. Barry Witherden