What the critics are saying
“Musicological scholarliness and fun are too often mutuallyexclusive. But Europe’s Harp Consort offered both in their program of works by the quintessential Irish composer Turlough O’Carolan. The Consort is directed by British harpist and early-music guru Andrew Lawrence-King. Besides the music, its members bring dance and theatrical elements to their performances: with Lawrence-King’s introductions, these elements brought Carolan and his historical context vividly to life.”
Anna McAlister, The Herald Sun
“This concert took us on a “journey”, a potted history of Carolan’s life, loves and adventures as he moved around Ireland, playing in the great houses of the gentry. It also revealed his irrepressible nature, evident in his drinking songs, lively jigs, reels and planxties. From a sedate first set, featuring Lawrence-King’s harp and Susanne Ansorg’s fiddle, the pace and mood picked up when Ian Harrison strapped on his Northumbrian bagpipes and guitarist Stephen Player danced to one of Carolan’s best-known tunes, Planxty Connor. Multi-instrumentalist Harrison featured in the following number as well, Abigail Judge, playing the cornetto – an early cross between an oboe and cornet which combines the plangent quality of the former with the mellowness of the brass. This in turn led to a song about Bridget Cruise… sung with haunting grace by Catriona O’Leary. Most of Carolan’s works were dedicated to his patrons, but TheArethusa is a poem about a maritime encounter between an English and a French ship, hilariously reenacted by Player aided by stormy sound effects from percussionist Michael Metzer.”
Steve Moffat, The North Shore Times
“A miscellany of instruments including woodwind and percussion played a sequence of jigs, slower dances and some of the composer’s idiosyncratic personal tributes, with founder Andrew Lawrence-King the central figure on harp or psaltery. Caitriona O’Leary sang two Gaelic love songs with a pure light soprano… Carolan’s Lamentation for Charles MacCabe proved a rich field of sensitivity and vocal flicks. Dancer/guitarist Steven Player showed at his best in the funeral jig Carolan’s Cup… The finely honed sonorities and subtleties in the Consort’s instrumental performances… [reached their] most satisfying points in quieter moments with delicate percussion work from Michael Metzler and the plainspeaking, unflustered fiddle of Susanne Ansorg… the Harp Consort offers [an] … intellectually engaging brand of music-making, enriched by muted pleasures.”
Clive O’Connell, The Age
The Harp Consort performs in Perth tonight, after concerts in Canberra and Melbourne over the weekend.