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Traditional Christmas Carols arranged for harp
Harriet Adie (harp)
rec. 2022, The Musical Museum, Brentford, London
MPR 113 [48]

This sequence of arrangements of carols for solo harp was accomplished by Harriet Adie after two miscarriages in 2021. Each arrangement has required apposite revision, judicious emphasis and a sense of colour, and, happily, the disc arrives in good time for the Christmas season.

Something of her procedure can be heard in that seasonal favourite Ding Dong! Merrily on High!, where the charming reflective and introspective panel of its central section balances the bell peals and the final resolute flourish to create a richly rounded picture. Each of the 16 carols has some pliant or effective detail. In I Saw Three Ships it’s the sense of crispness and flowing resonance, whereas in O Come, O Come Emmanuel it’s rather the richness of the lower strings of Adie’s harp as she draws the music from lower to upper strings in rich arpeggios.

The traditional Polish carol Infant Holy, Infant Lowly has a lovely melody whereas Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence is neatly shaped, colourful and rhythmically vivid. One of the best arrangements in the disc is that of the lovely Sussex Carol and whilst Joy to the World sounds a touch jazzy in her arrangement that’s all to the good. The Canadian Huron Carol is an elegant addition and NoŽl Nouvelet is heard in an unusually slow and reflective performance.
Deftly concise, The Holly and the Ivy reinforces both Adie’s judgement and her taste and it contrasts happily with the succeeding arrangement of Once in Royal David’s City, a richly ornate affair, complete with attractive romantic roulades. The Truth sent from Above is infused with a sense of the folkloric, its rise and fall very effectively achieved by Adie in this lustrous performance. For Silent Night she prefers a more decorous, delicate and refined arrangement, as befits it, and for In Dulce Jubilo she judiciously draws out its melody to create a fitting close to the sixteen arrangements.

This finely, warmly recorded festive disc features performances strong on dexterity, texture and colour in welcome and varied arrangements.

Jonathan Woolf
Ding Dong! Merrily on High!
I Saw Three Ships
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
Infant Holy, Infant Lowly
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
Christ was Born on Christmas Day
Sussex Carol
Joy to the World
Huron Carol
NoŽl Nouvelet
The Holly and the Ivy
Once in Royal David’s City
The Truth sent from Above
Silent Night
Tomorrow Shall be my Dancing Day
In Dulce Jubilo

Published: November 25, 2022

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