Alan Stivell – “Plijadur Ha Displijadur”.

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Today I chose to share with you this short, solo harp piece played by the Breton Celtic harpist Alan Stivell, which I think is a traditional tune. I only know that it originates from Brittany, but since I can’t speak Breton, I don’t even know what its title means, and don’t know anything else about it. Still, it sounds really nice to me.

Nansi Richards – “Nes Atat Ti” (Nearer To Thee).

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Today, let’s listen to the rendition of this Christian hymn played by the Welsh harpist Nansi Richards, otherwise known as Telynores Maldwyn. Its original, English title is “Nearer, My God, to Thee” and was written by Sarah F. Adams, with the melody composed by Lowell Mason. I found it interesting when I first heard this piece played by Nansi Richards that not only do I know it, as a hymn with this melody is also known in Polish Catholic church (don’t know how about the Catholic church in other countries) but even under more or less the same title as the Welsh version. I was later quite surprised to learn that the author of the lyrics, Sarah F. Adams, was actually a Unitarian, and while when I had a look to compare the English and Polish lyrics they’re quite different and the Polish ones are only loosely based on the original theme, it’s interesting that this hymn made its way here.

Lynn Saoirse – “The Seas Are Deep”.

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I’ve shared with you quite a few track from the Irish Celtic harpist Lynn Saoirse, specifically from her album called The Seas Are Deep, with music composed by Turlough O’Carolan. Today I thought we’d listen to the title track, which I absolutely love for its melancholic and slightly dark feel.

Delyth Evans – “Yr Hen Don/Y Corgi Bach” (The Old Wave/The Little Corgi).

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For today, I chose to share with you a set of two (I think traditional) tunes played on the Celtic harp by Delyth Evans, currently known as Delyth Jenkins. I find both of them really nice.

Gwenan Gibbard – “Dod Dy Law” (Place Your Hand).

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At the beginnings of my blog, one of the songs I shared with you was

Dod Dy Law

beautifully sung acapella by Gwilym Bowen Rhys, who’s of course one of my faza people. And then I think I also shared it sung by Siรขn James. I had very little idea about Welsh then, and didn’t know what the word “dod” was supposed to mean in this context, but now I know it means to put or place. Since then, I’ve also become familiar with Ffion from the Foxglove Trio, who has a blog where she writes about Welsh folk songs, and which I often find very useful. And she wrote

a post about this song.

It’s thanks to her that I finally learned what this song is about and I agree that it’s one of the saddest Welsh songs of those I’ve heard.

As it’s quite easy to figure out from the lyrics, the lyrical subject is addressing their former lover, by whom their heart has been broken.

The translated lyrics below are taken from Ffion’s website, who in turn got them from the website of Gwenan Gibbard, and they’ve been translated by Dafydd Ifan.

 

Place your hand, lest you believe,

On my breast, without hurting me,

If you listen, you may hear

The sound of my little heart breaking.

Oh my dearest, take a reed

And hold it at both ends,

Break it in half

Just as you broke my heart.

Heavy the lead, heavy the stones,

Heavy is the heart of all lonely people,

Heaviest of all, twixt sun and moon,

Is bidding farewell where there is love.

Nansi Richards – “Codiad yr Ehedydd” (Rising of the Lark).

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It feels quite late here for tunes like this, as it’s almost noon, but I still decided to share with you this beautiful piece performed by late Nansi Richards aka Telynores Maldwyn. It was composed by Dafydd Owen, aka Dafydd y Garreg Wen, also a Welsh harpist, who simply heard a lark singing one morning and got inspired to compose this. I’ve also seen that lyrics to this song exist, but all versions I’ve heard so far are instrumental.

Nadia Birkenstock – “Douce Merveille” (Sweet wonder).

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A while ago I shared with you one of Turlough O’Carolan’s tunes played by this German Celtic harpist and singer, and today I thought I’d share her own composition, which is really nice. I don’t speak French myself but its title seems to mean Sweet Wonder, or something along these lines.

Floraleda Sacchi – “Metamorphosis 2”.

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This amazing piece played by the Italian harpist Floraleda Sacchi originally comes from the American avant-garde composer and multi-instrumentalist Philip Glass, from a piano solo album of his. Five of the tracks on this album are called Metamorphosis and they are inspired by the Franz Kafka novella by the same title. Floraleda Sacchi released an album with various works of this composer, including all five Metamorphosis pieces, and here’s the second one of them.

Inge Frimout-Hei – “Mont-Saint-Michel By Night”.

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Today I have for you just a short but beautiful harp piece from a harpist whose music I’ve never shared before on here yet. I believe she’s from the Netherlands. It comes from the album called Mont-Saint-Michel which seems to be entirely inspired by this place.

Delyth Jenkins & Angharad Jenkins – “Can y Bachgen Main/Ebenezer” (Song of the Slender Lad/Ebenezer).

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For today I decided to share with you a set of pieces from this great Welsh mother-daughter, harp-fiddle duo, also collectively known as DNA. I like their arrangement of these tunes very much, I like their arrangements in general. The first one is called “Can Y Bachgen Main”, also known simply as “Y Bachgen Main”, and it does originally have lyrics. It’s about a boy who is walking in the forest when he hears two women talking with each other. As it happens, they turn out to be his lover and her mother arguing. The mother tries to persuade the girl that she should find herself a wealthy husband and that she’s going to find her the right match, but she disagrees and says she’s happy with the boy with whom she is. She emphasises that even if she would be offered all the riches in the world she’d stick to him anyway. That really pisses the mummy, who says she’ll have to sleep on a bed of torns if she doesn’t change her mind. Then we can assume that the girl eventually did what she wanted, as we hear that the girl who sleeps in the lad’s arms is happy, but then in the next verse he goes off to sea, and we don’t even know why. Perhaps he couldn’t deal with the mother-in-law.

The second tune, “Ebenezer” is a hymn, it’s alternate name being Ton-y-Botel (Tune From the Bottle), which I think is a very funny name for a hymn, but it is called so for a very simple reason, namely that it is said to have been found in a bottle along the Welsh coast. It was composed by Thomas John Williams.

Laura Silberberg – “Theme du Lac des Sygnes” (Theme of Swan Lake).

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Today I thought we’d listen to something classical, or should we say romantic. The piece I want to show you today comes from harpist Laura Silberberg, who does mostly or perhaps even exclusively relaxing music. I’m not extremely familiar with her, I only started listening to her a bit last year. This piece is her interpretation of the famous theme composed by Pyotr Tchaikovsky for the ballet Swan Lake, or Lac des Cygnes in French. This theme will always remind me of a Swan Lake musical box I used to have as a child, which had small looking glasses on each side and a surface in the middle which was supposed to be a lake, with two figurines moving on it. I had a time in my life when I loved sophisticated figurines and collected them so I really liked this.

Lynn Saoirse – “The Princess Royal/Miss MacDermott”.

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Today, let’s listen to another composition by the Irish harper Turlough O’Carolan, played by Lynn Saoirse. I recently shared one that was dedicated to Mrs. MacDermott, and I wrote there that the MacDermott family was very significant in O’Carolan’s life, as they were his patrons with whom he had a really good relationship. Even though there is a / in the title of this piece, which is common with Irish sets, this is only one piece, but simply known under two names. This is because the MacDermot Roe family also used the title of princes of Coolavin, and so naturally the daughter of a Prince of Coolavin was Princess of Coolavin. This is one of the most well-known compositions by O’Carolan.

Song of the day (17th June) – Nadia Birkenstock – “Carolan’s Farewell To Music”.

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I was on a trip to Masuria with my family, hence there were no posts from me for a while. Among all the amazing harpists I love whose music I’ve introduced to you on here, never before have I shared anything from Nadia Birkenstock, so now is the time. Nadia Birkenstock is a Celtic harpist as well as singer from Germany, but known in Celtic music circles around the world. I’ve been aware of her music for many years but only recently started listening to her music a lot more. She learned to play harp at a young age but received formal training later in the US, from, among others, the American Celtic harpist Kim Robertson, whose one piece I’ve shared on this blog as well. She plays a lot of traditional Celtic music but also composes her own material.

This particular tune is a traditional one. Last year I have already shared with you a tune called

Farewell To Music by Celia Briar,

and said how I think it’s very depressing and wondered why such title. Then months later I decided to broaden my knowledge about Turlough O’Carolan a bit. I always found him very interesting but decided I really want to get to know him a bit better than just the basics. What I learned has interested me further and now I’m looking for some books about his life and also music. Over that period of time, I finally learned why such a depressing title of Celia Briar’s tune, as it is the name of the last composition of O’Carolan, that he played shortly before his death. He could feel that his life was about to end, and thus decided to go to the home one of his patrons, the one with whom he had a very close relationship – Mrs. McDermott Roe – and played this song while there. That was where he later died, surrounded by friends.

Gwenan Gibbard – “Lliw Gwyn Rhosyn Yr Haf” (White Colour Of A Summer Rose).

Today, I want to share with you another version of a traditional song that I previously shared with you on here, this time a more acoustic one from the harpist Gwenan Gibbard. I think this is the first tune by her that I’m sharing where she’s also singing. For more background information about this song, you can click the link below, where I shared the

version by the band Pendevig,

with one of my faza peeps – Gwilym Bowen Rhys – and Bethan Rhiannon as vocalists.

While obviously I really like both versions or otherwise I wouldn’t be sharing them here, I think I lean more towards the Pendevig one, as, in my opinion, it shows its spirit better, and also, well, fazas are fazas, Gwilym rules! But the big pluses of Gwenan Gibbard’s interpretation are that it’s more traditional, and, of course, features the harp.

Song of the day (15th June) – Nansi Richards – “Pibddawns Gwyr Wrecsam” (Men of Wrexham’s Hornpipe).

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Let’s listen to this short, traditional tune by Nansi Richards. Or at least I’m pretty sure it is traditional. A hornpipe (or pibddawns in Welsh) is a Celtic and English dance which is danced in a type of hard shoes, like clogs in Wales I think, and which took its name from the instrument which traditionally accompanies it.

Lynn Saoirse – “Mrs. Maxwell and Mrs. Nugent”.

And, for today, I picked for you guys a piece played by Lynn Saoirse, from her album The Seas Are Deep, which features compositions by Irish Celtic harper Turlough O’Carolan. As I’ve already written on here before, what was characteristic to Turlough O’Carolan’s music was that he composed a lot of tunes in honour of his patrons, as a way of showing his gratitude. That’s what we can find on this Lynn Saoirse’s album. This is a piece which, as you can figure out from the title, is dedicated to the two mentioned ladies. Unfortunately I don’t know who they were in his life, but he has composed multiple pieces for people with the surname Nugent, so I guess all we can assume is that they must have been some family he knew, whereas there is more than one piece dedicated to Mrs. Maxwell, so she must have been an important person in his life. Seeing all those people’s names though and hearing the music he composed for them, I’d really like to know a bit more about them to have a clearer picture of things.

Song of the day (12th June) – Llio Rhydderch – “Sir Foฬ‚n Bach” (Little Anglesey).

Here is a tune from Llio Rhydderch – “Sir Foฬ‚n Bach”, from the album by the same title. It translates to Little Anglesey or perhaps rather Little Angleseyshire, Anglesey being an isle and a historic county in north Wales. This is a traditional tune coming from the tune book of Welsh fiddler Robert Thomas. I was wondering what “little” in the title meant, what sort of significance it might have, and it turns out to simply be a term of endearment. Llio Rhydderch herself is from Anglesey, as I think I’ve mentioned before, and she clearly has a lot of love for her little homeland as this is far from only one piece in her repertoire whose title refers in some way to the isle of Anglesey.