Friends of Rye Art Gallery were welcomed by Trevor Llanwarne, chairman of the Trust, to the music recital given last Saturday by harpist Sue Rothstein. It was the first time I had attended a solo harp recital and previous exposure to the harpsichord caused me some prior anxiety, fortunately here completely misplaced.
The performance began with a piece by Pescetti, and lived up to its title Andantino Expressivo with enchanting lyricism, which set the tone for the evening. Though darker emotional material was to follow, the abiding impression was of rippling water-song, flowing limpidly without dissonance, with sweeping glissandos, running arpeggios and elusive harmonics.
The repertoire was unfamiliar, without the perhaps anticipated anguish to be met in the Gaelic traditional themes of loss and betrayal in love, as sung in the minstrel’s hall of medieval times. This wide-ranging music was played on a thoroughly modern instrument, with seven pedals capable of producing almost infinite modulations of tone and effect.
Sue Rothstein’s artistry was mesmerising, her hands dancing over the strings. The tone was conversational, an intimate dialogue in which we listeners shared. Sometimes leisurely, at times more insistent, the music held in John Milton’s words: “an inbreathed sense, able to pierce”. Forty minutes of pleasurable listening passed so quickly, leaving us wanting to hear more.
As an innovation on the part of Rye Art Gallery, bringing music and art together, this can be rated a success to be repeated, one hopes.
Image Credits: Kenneth Bird .