There’s the old joke about the harp being the instrument of heaven while the accordion plays downstairs, but whether the Devil has all the good tunes or not, I’ll take the harp any day. Dawn is the final CD in harper Julia Rovinsky’s trilogy (after Dusk and Dark) and, like its predecessors, it’s a predictably seductive collection, following in the footsteps of Victoria Looseleaf’s acclaimed Harpnosis from 1984. The aim is to emphasise the harp’s dreamy ambient qualities with a collection of dreamy ambient pieces by contemporary composers, here John Cage, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Gavin Bryars amd Uri Brener, all transcriptions for harp.
Cage wrote directly for harp too, his In A Landscape for Piano or Harp featured on Harpnosis, and both Prelude for Meditation and Dream create a similarly suspended Satie-esque environment. Energy Flow is one of Sakamoto’s biggest hits, and he too drags Satie into Orientalism, playing up to diatonic cliche but, as with all his music, plain faced about it. Bryars and Brener’s works are longer and more abstract, but in the sense that there is even more aimless drift, less to grip on to, and they bleed so effortlessly into one another that I’ve not once noticed the transition despite multiple plays. This is spineless music, sure, but it’s so well played and recorded that its impossible to dislike.