Crossing Waves

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Arnold,Beamish,Britten,Scott,Watkins,Young
LABELS: Discovery
ALBUM TITLE: Keziah: Crossing Waves
WORKS: Works by Arnold, Beamish, Scott, Watkins, Britten and Young
PERFORMER: Keziah Thomas (harp)
CATALOGUE NO: DMV110

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Britten’s Suite for Harp is the most familiar piece here. It’s given an intimate performance by Keziah (Thomas’s nom de harpiste), an impression enhanced by the relatively close though not intrusive recording. The Toccata is particularly deft, with delicate interplay between the hands, and scrupulous distinctions of touch and dynamic.

Malcolm Arnold’s Fantasy for Harp was written for the same player (Osian Ellis), and loses nothing in comparison to the Britten. It’s more overtly dramatic in its gestures in the opening ‘Lament’, though again one notices Keziah’s special affinity with the quieter, more introverted shadings, and her poised, painstaking approach to elucidating structure.

African sleeping sickness is the unusual subject-matter of Sally Beamish’s Awuya, which features drum rhythms rapped out on the harp’s wooden body, and a tribal lullaby. Andy Scott’s Crossing Waves, played by Keziah at her Carnegie Hall debut in 2010, charts impressions of Roz Savage’s solo cross-Atlantic row five years earlier. If the inspiration sounds over-programmatic, the piece itself is musically cohesive, without particularly pushing the envelope technically or expressively.

Huw Watkins’s more progressive Suite for Harp and James Young’s playfully patriotic Varying Britannia round out this imaginatively programmed, winningly played recital.

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Terry Blain