Thursday, November 29, 2012

In review--Harps of Galicia

Rodrigo Romaní
As Arpas de Breogán

Oddly, Galician harpist Rodrigo Romaní new album As Arpas de Breogán (The Breogán Harps) arrived in my mailbox right after I completed a section in my book Whole Music on harps.  I knew that harps played a role in traditional and most likely classical music of Galicia (Spain), but I believe this is the first harp recording I’m hearing from Northwest Spain.  While Galicia has Celtic influences, the bagpipes, frame drums, and other instruments differ from Celtic instruments of the British Isles.  Galicians also have their own styles of Celtic music with distinguishing features.

The press notes tell the story of how the harp was introduced to Galician folk and popular music.  Rodrigo Romaní and lute-maker Ramon Casal introduced the harp to the University of Vigo in 1996.  Romaní who plays the roles of producer, composer, educator, conductor and broadcaster has built a solid reputation throughout Spain and with international orchestras.  On the recording The Breogán Harps, the songs possess both folkloric and classical strains; warm and soothing qualities.  But there are times, when the musicians (harp, flutes, vocals, percussion, etc) pick up the tempo such as on the danceable Rumba para Susi (Rumba for Susi).  Mí Morena falls more on the folkloric side with signature Galician vocals that stretch out the last syllable in a phrase.  However, the crowning glory on recording is the Suite in B-minor for Breogán Harps with its shimmering notes ascending and cascading.

Despite not being able to read the liner notes written in Gallego (Galician dialect), the music here sounds accessible and speaks a universal language.  Even music listeners who believe that they’re not interested in hearing harp music will find enough musical variety (harmonics and rhythms) on this recording to keep them satisfied.  Fans of Celtic music will immediately gravitate to this stunning CD.

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