Jane Edwards and
Marshall McGuire are both experienced musicians and they here
collaborate on the harpist’s own arrangements of some well-known
repertoire. Around half is by English composers, ancient and
more modern; there is a brace of aria antiche, a trio of Germanic
songs (Mendelssohn, Reger, Beethoven), a solitary Barber, a
Carl Vine, a Glanville-Hicks to fly the Australian flag, and
two Hahns to end with Gallic finesse. This is all well and good
but the listener will query the harp arrangements. Isn’t there
something just a touch, well, just a touch nineteenth century
about it all? Doesn’t it smack a little of drawing rooms and
I suppose the answer
lies in the effectiveness of the arrangements or otherwise.
These ones are effectively and often affectionately done. The
Caccini is nicely limpid and Edwards’s runs are well taken.
The Dowland songs give opportunities for McGuire to employ lute
imitation and for Edwards to lavish some fruity vibrato on Can
She Excuse My Wrongs? Hardly a Kirkby performance but then
Dowland is too important a composer to leave to the specialists.
Vine’s Love Me Sweet is simple and romantic.
When it comes to
the Quilter settings one could raise some objections. Maybe
there’s not too much one should do with Now Sleeps The Crimson
Petal – I certainly don’t enjoy Bryn Terfel blundering around
the undergrowth of these kinds of songs in his size ten boots
- but I think with a piano accompanist Edwards might vary the
colour in her voice more. There’s certainly room for a greater
degree of word painting than she tries. Barbara Allen
also shows another side of the equation, the harp encouraging
rather slower speeds than one normally encounters with the piano.
Reger’s song is
rather attractive but she overdoes and overbalances Gurney’s
Sleep. Glanville-Hicks sets the same John Fletcher poem
very charmingly if not very deeply. The Robert Johnson songs
are analogous to the Dowland in these arrangements but we end
with a sample of her French repertoire. A Chloris is
something of a masterpiece of French song and it makes for a
is a difficult one to recommend. You’ll doubtless have these
songs in their normal guise. With resonant sound – but full
texts – this offers up more a calling card for the performers
and an interesting if somewhat uneven programme.