Harp Column CD reviewer Alison Young raved about Tristan Le Govic’s new CD Elva in the March/April 2015 issue. If that inspired you to buy the CD, listening to it may inspire you to buy his self-published book of the same title. It includes all but the one tune sung a capella on the CD. Four of the pieces are from Scandinavian repertoire, four are from Celtic repertoire, and two are Le Govic’s original compositions.
Only the vocal line and lyrics are included for N’em eus ket nameit ur blank, the selection that featured two voices on the recording (Le Govic himself and Swedish singer Lise Enochsson). The rest of the pieces are written for solo Celtic harp tunes to E-flat. You will need a full set of levers and 36-38 strings, going down to sixth octave C or below. No fingering is suggested.
Much of the music could be played on pedal harp but works far better on lever harp as several pieces would require enharmonic substitutions. No pedal markings are included. Lever changes are notated by extremely tiny notes in a box on the staves at the point of execution. Although they are difficult to see, the meaning is clear, and the box alerts you to the change.
Mr. Le Govic uses special effects such as damping, three-fingered as well as nail glissandi, whistling sounds (rubbing the bass strings), harmonics, grace notes, and lever slides to add color and interest.
Even though they are a traditional Norwegian dance and Breton march, respectively, Jag tänker så titt, and Ton Bale Elva, have such a jazzy feel you might think you are channeling Deborah Henson-Conant. Calum Sgaire, a Scottish air, and Kibò no kodomotachi, an original composition mourning the tragic Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, are probably the easiest to play. Gavotenn Pourlet is a very lively Breton dance and requires solid technique and accurate fingering.
An original composition, Hosing the Flowers, is the longest at nine pages. It requires a fairly elaborate pre-setting of levers (and would be a pedaling nightmare). Described as « a tune between an old cakewalk and a ragtime in C-sharp » the composer instructs you to tune the top three strings slightly out of tune to imitate a honky-tonk piano. There is a cadenza that uses the sixth octave B and A, but this could be modified for harps without those lower notes.
The large left hand expanses throughout and some fast tempi make this collection suitable for advanced lever harp player. The typesetting is easy to read but some page turns are difficult. Performance notes in both English and French provide some useful instructions. Lyrics and descriptions of the pieces are at the back of the book.
Tristan propose aussi à part, comme pour chacun de ses nouveaux CD, le cahier qui reprend toutes les partitions jouées ; un travail remarquable, réalisé avec toute la minutie possible pour ses élèves et pour tous ceux qui voudraient les étudier de plus près.
Une initiative rare, qu'on ne peut manquer de saluer.
On retrouve ici l'image du CD, mais sans le harpiste ni la belle au pieds nus... puisque les musiciens, à présent, c'est vous...