Aryeh Frankfurter,
Celtic Harp: The Morning Dew
(ARC, 2003)

Aryeh Frankfurter's skills on the harp are truly wonderful. His passion and incredible talent shine through on this album. Having gathered together a beautiful selection of pieces, Frankfurter has arranged, and often times added to, each one flawlessly. Whether using a variety of backing instruments or playing solo, each piece is unique, both on the album and when compared to other versions of the same tunes.

Beginning with the lovely "Ta Me Mo Shui," the album starts off on a high note. Equally artfully interpreted versions of such well known pieces as "Women of Ireland," "Carrickfergus" and "Blind Mary" are also here. "Carrickfergus" involves some spine-tingling harmonies, while the jaunty "Banish Misfortune" is a great contrast. "Samhradh, Samhradh/Farewell to Ireland" begins with a druidic chant that has the expected slightly mystical air to it, but speeds up going into the Irish reel that incorporates several other instruments including fiddle. The song builds to an energetic crescendo towards the end. "Coilsfield House" has a stately, drawing-room feel to it, with its genteel violin accompaniment. "The Full Rigged Ship/The New Rigged Ship" from the Shetland Islands of Scotland are both dramatically arranged and bring to mind a ship preparing and setting off on a journey. The recording ends with "The Sandpit" from Cape Breton, Canada. The tune is slow and hypnotic, the perfect way to finish.

One point of interest on the album is the lively "Scottish Fisherman's Song for Attracting Seals," followed directly by "The Selkie" (a mythical Scottish seal that is able to turn human by shedding its skin). This almost makes it seem like there is a storyline to the songs with the fishermen calling and the selkies answering the call. (Frankfurter suggests in the note for "The Full Rigged Ship/The New Rigged Ship" that perhaps they are setting off to look for seals, adding a touch of humor to the sort-of story.) "The Selkie" is a tragic sounding tune and is only just the same tune as the song with lyrics.

This being an ARC recording, the liner notes are so complete they almost make up the price of the CD. A brief biography of Frankfurter is included, along with background information on the songs, their places of origin and how they have been interpreted. A section on the Celtic harp finishes off the booklet. Well, not quite as the whole thing is repeated again in German and French, a standard feature of ARC liner notes.

Frankfurter is not only a wonderful harp player, but an inspired arranger. He breathes new life into some old tunes and introduces plenty more that few people will have encountered before. This album is a great addition to the collection of any Celtic music lover.

- Rambles
written by Jean Emma Price
published 18 June 2005

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