4 Girls 4 Harps, Harriet Adie, Keziah Thomas, Eleanor Turner, and Elizabeth Scorah, harps; Discovery, 2013.
A Great Stocking Stuffer.
4 Girls 4 Harps at Christmas
Harriet Adie, Keziah Thomas, Eleanor Turner, and Elizabeth Scorah, harps; Discovery, 2013.
The British ensemble 4 Girls 4 Harps captures the imagination of this time in their latest release, 4 Girls 4 Harps At Christmas. Filled with the familiar, the carols on this album take on a whole new kaleidoscope of color. Harriet Aide’s bell-like “In Dulci Jubilo” flows magnificently; my only criticism is its brevity. A rustic and folksy “Hodie” makes us forget we are listening to concert harps. Their jazz-laden, off-beat “Holly and the Ivy” simply delights.
The album starts with a guest, aptly named Helen Winter, joining the quartet. Her soprano voice is warmest and most successful in Gustav Holst’s meditative “In the Bleak Midwinter.” Like the wonder of the first snowflakes falling one-by-one on an outstretched mitten, each unique and individual, the gentle lilt of Eleanor Turner’s arrangement—as well as the group’s spot-on ensemble playing—mesmerizes, causing us to long for Christmases past.
But for my taste, the opening track of “Deck the Halls,” while cheeky and upbeat, did not do the ensemble justice. 4 Girls 4 Harps possesses a luminous sound, clean and clear like a cloudless summer day, yet they are fully able to add depth in their fortes without losing one bit of that radiance. The addition of voice sadly diminished the orchestral color of the disc, and often I found these were tracks I’d skip in favor of the others.
Overall, it’s a beautiful, creative project that keeps the angelic in the season, while played by ladies willing to step out a bit. Don’t believe me? Their “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” says it all with a back beat. •