Awen is the second album from Brittany's Tristan Le Govic, an album of harp music with a beguiling enigma, and charming subtlety. The harp is an instrument that is fast becoming my favourite; I'm drawn to its winsome combination of sensitivity and nimble complexity, which are both facets that Le Govic demonstrates deftly. Borrowing from across the various Celtic traditions, the thread that binds Awen is telling throughout though never clichéd, offering tunes from Ireland and Scotland as well as Le Govic's native Brittany, alongside a selection of original material.
A relentless repetition of low notes, plucked with a determined vigour create a menacing undercurrent to the opening track, "Dañs Plin," with a persistent rhythm that maintains a degree of intimidation right through to the close of the track. There is an almost palpable degree of anticipation prior to each note on Le Govic's own composition, "Le Songe d'Orianne," played with a poise that allows you to relish the build and fade of each individual note that lend themselves to this beautifully flowing and lyrical air.
Le Govic explores the diversity within the Celtic traditions with a couple of Irish slides providing a spirited frivolity, to be followed by the more stark determination of the traditional Scottish reel, "On The High Road To Linton." There is also a Scandinavian detour on "Ar Vag," Le Govic's own variation on a traditional Swedish tune, with its demanding melody and less intuitive time signature.
Ultimately it is Le Govic's own compositions that leave a lasting impression, and in particular the intensity with which Le Govic is able to express a sense of place and emotion. "The first golden ray of light coming through a sleepy forest after an autumnal rain" is the brief description that accompanies "Glaz." These words alone conjure up powerful imagery, an imagery that is truly heightened by the evocative eloquence of the melody that they inspired.
There is much to enjoy about Awen, and Le Govic's world is certainly a pleasant and rewarding place in which to spend some time.
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