An intimate observation of the structure of music

REVIEW: Robin Ward

ALLAN PURDY
Last updated 08:34 20/02/2013

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On his third visit to New Plymouth, harpist Robin Ward again charmed his small but most appreciative audience at St Mary's Cathedral on Friday night.

In a well-balanced programme covering four centuries and twice as many countries, Ward captivated his listeners with impressive technical prowess and masterly musicianship.

Furthermore, he handcrafts his own harps (and on commission), and makes his own arrangements of piano and guitar pieces to add to his repertoire.

Music written by and for the traditional harpists of Britain and Ireland featured substantially, but despite their simple harmonic structure and often limited pitch range, these pieces were fascinating, helped greatly by Ward's absorbingly informative introductions. An example: at one stage in its development, a large pedal harp could cost as much as a two-bedroom apartment in Mayfair!

Ward's transcriptions of guitar pieces proved his intimate insight of the structure of music. The guitar character remained obvious, but the reincarnations worked admirably on harp.

Compositions by Tarrega and Barrios Mangore were particularly impressive, and in the final flamenco-style Leyenda, by Albeniz, well-known in its original piano version, Ward's virtuosity knew no bounds.

A delightful recital indeed - make sure you hear him on his next trip home to New Zealand.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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