"magical moments of the Festival "
Yesterday, Rachel Hair, Robin Huw Bowen and Tristan Le Govic shared the stage of a Palais des Congrès being carefully watched by the police. The venue was full. A Cultural Minister at the festival is something rare but yesterday, Frédéric Mitterrand was in the audience.
He was treated to an excellent musical moment, intermingling melodies and airs from all the Celtic regions: Irish jigs, a Breton plinn, a Scottish march, Gypsy airs from Wales, an Asturian ballad, a Norwegian scottish - not really Celtic, but very well performed by Tristan. The discussion between Rachel and Tristan, based on a pretended Scottish-Breton rivalry brought a complicity which thrilled the audience. The gavotte and the reel are very close to each other and easily mix their chords and harmonies.
The power of the triple harp, Rachel’s crystal sound, Tristan’s groove, contributed in the tunes performed together to this unique colour among the magical moments of the Festival. The Kesh jig, so often heard, took an unimaginable dimension in the last encore and came to conclude in a high point this great moment, too fast passed.
"his arrangements' rhythmic flair and imagination shone through"
CELEBRATING its 30th anniversary, the Edinburgh International Harp Festival has long been in the vanguard in highlighting the diversity of harping traditions, and their contemporary cross-fertilisation with other musical influences. Both elements of its programming were exemplified in this double bill, opened by the pairing of Breton-born harpist Tristan Le Govic and Swedish singer Lise Enochsson, joined here by the jazz-inflected double bass and percussion of Stuart Macpherson and Roy Shearer. While Le Govic was decidedly hampered by a severe tendon problem in his right shoulder, thus playing mainly one-handed, he displayed admirable stagecraft by turning the affliction into a running gag, and though his role was inevitably weakened, his arrangements' rhythmic flair and imagination shone through. Enochsson's vividly liquid, piquant singing created an arresting synthesis between Nordic and Celtic tonalities, particularly in her beautiful Swedish translation of a traditional Gaelic love lament.
A full house always creates a good atmosphere and there is no doubt that the audience at Strachur Memorial Hall were well inclined to enjoy themselves at last weekend’s concert. But however willing the audience, it takes musicians of skill and character to build on the potential for a truly great evening.
Residents, and the masses of visitors, were extraordinarily lucky with the first act. The harp is a classic instrument in the traditional music repertoire, and just beginning a revival here, although we are told it is massively popular on the mainland of Europe.. However it is quite rare in the UK to see it as a solo instrument, or in a duo of unaccompanied harpists.
The moment Tristan Le Govic (top picture) and Ailie Robertson plucked their first notes, it was clear that the audience were in for something special. They quickly established a relaxed and appreciative atmosphere in the audience. With Tristan’s virtuosity on the Breton harp, combined with appealing stories and song in Breton and French, it is no surprise that he is in demand at Festivals, has composed music for the cinema, and has won major competitions internationally.
Ailie is also no stranger to competition. No clarsach player has ever won the BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year Award, but she was a rare clarsach finalist. Picking up five Mod gold medals along the way of her short career, she shows just how versatile the instrument can be. Her warmth, touch and subtlety shine through on stage. This duo made a wonderful exploration of the music of two different, but interlinked, cultures, creating a rich tapestry of traditional tunes, woven with new compositions. Their performance delighted everyone present.
"His playing and his singing combine beautifully to evoke subtle emotions and a limpid poetry"
Whether playing the harp or singing to its accompaniment, Tristan Le Govic displays a sensibility, a fineness, a serenity even that affects the audience.
Everything seems so simple, so quiet with him. He takes us for a stroll in Baud region, meets the fishermen of Paimpol then off to Ireland. As we listen to his characterisation of the toil of Icelandic fishermen, it is as if we hear simultaneously the death bell tolling for them as they drown, their boat shaking under the storm, their screams of determined struggle.
Tristan Le Govic performs with the harp as naturally as he breathes - without artifice. His playing and his singing combine beautifully to evoke subtle emotions and a limpid poetry.
"Notes leap, mischievous and cheerful like a flock of birds, then suddenly they fly off and scatter..."
Tristan Le Govic's enchanted harp
On Tuesday the Chapel of Sant-Ivy was transformed into a theatre of Breton legends. Notes leap, mischievous and cheerful like a flock of birds, then suddenly they fly off and scatter seeking for refuge in the lush undergrowth. A golden ray of sunlight illuminates dew-drenched ferns. In the glade, a musician would like to take his rest but he cannot for the teasing of the fairy folk. So, to pacify them he plays Kas a-barh, Gwerz, or Kost ar c'hoed.
When leaving the forest, the harpist thinks to himself: When I come back on Earth, I won't stay dreaming. But can a musician ever stop dreaming? Indeed not! Later on, we find him in Paimpol setting out with fishermen for the Icelandic sea. Witnessing all, he sings of the fate that befalls them. His voice is soon swallowed in mist, leaving only the mocking of the gulls. Yet, after a series of gavottes, Tristan Le Govic finds refuge again in his own country, holding the hand of a young girl: Come with me, young girl, to the garden, for there you will see whites roses.
Tristan Le Govic bewitches the chapel
Simply magic! Tristan Le Govic gave a Celtic harp concert in the Lothea Chapel on Friday night. Currently touring the length and breadth of Brittany, this young and highly skilled musician invites the audience, by means of his 36 strings, to become immersed in the heart of in Breton culture.
Purity. From the first notes, the public was enchanted by so such purity. Blending his own compositions with laridés dances or gwerzioù, Tristan Le Govic knows how to stir the emotions. In the small chapel, the sounds flow out, shimmer and touch the audience's heart. Between each piece, the virtuoso provides a commentary, in Breton and then in French, on the tunes he plays and his choice of arrangements.
Crystal tone. His deep voice is the perfect counterpoise to the crystal tones of the Celtic harp. His songs alternate sorrowful and merry. Although Tristan Le Govic invites us back into the past, his arrangements sound surprisingly modern. Proof indeed that past and present can fuse in the sublime.
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