Back to the Celtic Harp Main Page    CD Reviews Archives (updated May 2009)

This is where we list CD reviews from previous years/months. For our current reviews, see our reviews section. All reviews are by Tanah (CHP editor & webmaster) unless otherwise noted.

Past CD Reviews:
    "Aros" by Delyth Jenkins (Feb. '07)
    "Peaceful Night" by Julia (Jan. '07)
    "Island Suite" by Alison Vardy (March '06)
    "Phosphorescence" by Alys Howe (guest review, Feb. '06)
    "Golden Lights and Green Shadows" by Gráinne Hambly (June/July '03)
    "Old Hearth" by Robin Huw Bowen (Jan. '03)
    "Harp to Harp" by Binnorie" (Apr. '02)
    "Between the Showers" by Gráinne Hambly (Feb. '02)
    "Apasionada" by Alison Vardy (Mar. '02)
    "After the Fall" by Moira Nelson (Aug. '01)

"Aros" by Delyth Jenkins - Reviewed Feb. 20 '07
What a nice surprise, after recently reviewing Ms. Jenkin's book of Welsh tunes, to get one of her CD's in the mail. I've listened to it through several times now, and have thoroughly enjoyed it each time. Like her book, the CD is a blend of traditional Welsh tunes and original compositions by Delyth. This a harp CD that really features the harp playing; the recording is clear, no muddiness, and the playing is light and deft. Like any good harp playing, depending on the track it can be both relaxing and enlivening. I especially like her set of original compositions "A Veritable Feast / Digestif", where she is joined by several excellent musicians (including her own daughter) on fiddle, tenor sax, and darabuka. The accompaniment by other instruments on the album is done with subtlety and grace, and the fiddle parts in particular are lovely. Delyth is also joined by her other daughter on flute for Mil Harddach Wyt (track 6), making this a truly family affair. Other musicians featured are Angharad Jenkins, Peter Stacey, Branwen Jenkins, and Dylan Fowler. For more information on Delyth Jenkins and her recordings you can visit her website at

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"Peaceful Night" by Julia - Reviewed Jan. 7 '07
I always like to support independent artists, and it's great to see CD's of entirely original work. That said, I have to admit it took until the second or third track for me to warm up to this album. Personally, when I reach for harp CD's, the new-age kind of mellow style isn't the first thing I'd go for. The first track didn't do much for me; I thought the harp was a little lost under all the synth sounds. However, the second track made me perk up my ears a bit; it started with an unaccompanied harp intro (aha - there's the harp, I thought), and it was a little more upbeat; the synth had a bit more of a jazzy feel to it, and it felt like something that would be good meditative music. By the third track, I found I was actually tapping my foot along to the rhythm.
From there the album alternates between what I came to think of as a kind of retro light jazz, and pleasant ambient, with the other instruments (including flute, piano and various strings) contributing some interesting texture - there's some good guitar work on track 4 (Saskatchewan Sunset), for instance. On track 7 (Reflections), the harp came to the fore again, which was nice. My favourite track of all was the "bonus" track (#11, Night Market on the Adriatic), which was a great little upbeat, mid-east marketplace feeling tune. If Julia were to put out an album where most of the music was like the last track, I'd definitely want to check it out. All told, I would have liked to hear the harp featured more prominently; but if you're mainly looking for a mellow album to chill out to, this should do the trick (although the last track might wake you up!) - T.H.
For more information on Julia Cunningham's musical endeavours, you can visit

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"Island Suite" by Alison Vardy - Reviewed March 7 '06
The last time I got to listen to a CD by Alison was back in 2001, so I was pleasantly surprised to find her most recent CD, Island Suite, in my mailbox, mere days after our reviews section had become active again. Island Suite is an engaging blend of different cultural influences and original compositions. The same upbeat, cheerful nature that suffused Alison's first two CD's is just as present here. The unique sound of the Paraguayan harp lends an interesting texture to the music, which flows seamlessly from one melody to the next, despite all the tunes being distinct from one another. I especially liked the changes in tone that occur in "From the Shadows" (Alison's own composition). Along with the Paraguayan harp that Alison built herself in a harp-building workshop in Australia, Alison also plays a synthetic-gut-strung Celtic lever harp. For more info on Alison and her recordings you can visit her website at - T.H.

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Guest CD Review Feb. 22 '06:
Alys Howe's CD, Phosphorescence, is an absolutely delightful recording, with dazzling harp playing, innovative arrangements and some of Alys's original compositions. Her clear, lovely voice is also featured on a couple of tracks, such as "Ca' the Yowes", and there are also tracks with other instruments. My personal favourite is her marvelous take on "Musical Priest". Her CD can be ordered from
  - Elizabeth Volpé , Principal Harp, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra; Harp Instructor, University of British Columbia

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"Golden Lights and Green Shadows" by Gráinne Hambly - Reviewed June/July 2003
I'm always glad to get a package in the mail postmarked from Ireland, because it usually means the newest thing from Gráinne. I thoroughly enjoyed her first CD, "Between the Showers", and was looking forward to her latest recording. Needless to say, I was not disappointed. It has her trademark light, effortless touch, each tune seeming to dance of its own accord. Her harp playing is always refreshing, uncluttered and genuine, speaking to the heart of the music. It is also a good introduction to Celtic dance tunes for anyone who might be wanting to play Irish music on the harp. - T.H.
The tunes played on this CD are: · The Hills of Coore / Paddy Mills' · Celia Connellan / The Rectory Reel · Jackson's Night Cap (or 'Strike the Gay Harp') / Martin Hardiman's · An Draigheann ('The Blackthorn') · Henry MacDermott Roe (1st Air) · Patsy Touhey's / Maude Miller · An bhfaca tú mo Vailintín? ('Have you seen my Valentine?') / Clare Island Boat Song · The Wind off the Lake / John McHugh's / The Gallant Tipperary Boys · Kitty Magennis · Burke's / Up Boyle's Hill · 'A Munster Jig' / The Ladies March to the Ballroom / Máirseáil Alasdruim · Caoineadh Uí Néill ('Lament for O'Neill') · The Arra Mountains / Lá na Feise · Sailing into Walpole's Marsh / The Whistling Postman
To find out more about Gráinne Hambly and her recordings, visit her website at

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"Old Hearth" by Robin Huw Bowen. 1999 SAIN (Recordiau) Cyf / 2000 Marquis Classics
"Welsh music on the Triple Harp to warm the heart" - reviewed January 2003
I knew little about the triple harp before listening to this CD, and it was the main reason I have since fallen in love with the instrument. While I would shy away from playing it (the triple row of strings makes it look devilishly complicated), I am always amazed when listening to triple harp music. There are many unusual sounds and arrangements that can come out of such a harp, and Robin Huw Bowen makes full use of all its capabilities. He is simply a wonderful harpist, and the CD lives up to its claim of "music to warm the heart". A must for anyone who loves Welsh music, harp music afficionados, or simply anyone who appreciates a masterful performance. I really can't say too much good stuff about Robin Huw Bowen - now I just have to track down all his other recordings!
Special Note: For anyone who might be contemplating going to the Goderich Celtic College (in Goderich, ON, Canada) this summer (2003), I have heard that Robin will be teaching harp there. I, for one, am going to be there! - T.H.
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"Harp to Harp" by Binnorie, 2001 - reviewed April 26th, 2002
First of all, an apology to the two lovely ladies who sent me this CD, for not getting their review up sooner! (The usual problems with real life interfering, computer meltdowns, etc.) I love it when I get indie CD's in the mail, since often there are groups I've never heard of or are just starting out. It's always great to hear what's going on in the wide world of harpers. Binnorie consists of Liz York and Lorna Walker, and is a "Scottish/English collaboration". They are also joined on this CD by Rob Walker on flute and Richard York on percussion. I'm sometimes skeptical when getting harp-and-voice CD's (the singing doesn't always live up to the level of the harp playing), but in this case I was pleasantly surprised. "Harp to Harp" is a collection of traditional tunes and songs, ranging from the (to me) familiar, such as the Butterfly and Lagan Love, to songs I was less familiar with. There are also some original tunes done in a traditional style In all cases, Binnorie puts their own unique stamp on each piece, and the singing always combines effortlessly and smoothly with the harp and other instruments. I found the recording to be a little quiet on my machine, but otherwise the sound was excellent. Good work, Binnorie, and looking forward to further collaborations! -T.H. (To learn more about Binnorie, you can visit their website at
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"Between the Showers" by Gráinne Hambly. 1999, Shamrock Records. - reviewed February 13th, 2002
I was pleasantly surprised one day to find an envelope at my door that had come all the way from Ireland. In it were this CD by Gráinne Hambly, along with her book "Traditional Irish Music Arranged for Harp" (click here for review), which includes many of the pieces from the CD. I was even more pleased when I popped the CD in and pressed play. Gráinne's playing is thoroughly enchanting, and I loved every minute of it. The CD is a wonderful collection of traditional tunes, from reels and slip jigs, to slow airs and hornpipes. Gráinne's mastery of the harp seems effortless and airy, and my mood always brightens each time I listen to it. Even the artwork on the CD and CD cover are gently beautiful, softy earthy colours and flowing lines that suit the music perfectly. And inside, there are generous liner notes revealing details about each one of the pieces. I would highly recommend this CD to any lover of harp music. - T.H.
To find out more about Gráinne Hambly and her recordings, visit her website at
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"Apasionada" by Alison Vardy. - Reviewed March 21st, 2001
Apasionada is Alison Vardy's newest CD (2000). On this CD, Alison plays three different harps: a 36-string Paraguayan harp that she made herself, a 36-string synthetic gut NOVA lever harp by Sandpiper Harps, and a 33-string nylon lever harp by Walter Bresch of British Columbia.
Apasionada is a multicultural collage, drawing on many musical influences including Spanish, Scottish, Russian, and South American, and including several pieces composed by Alison.
While the sound of the harps is generally mellow and deep, the pieces are suffused with rhythm and energy. The rhythms are light, upbeat and infectious. Definitely good music for a rainy or dreary day.
Alison started playing harp while living in rural New Zealand. She taught herself in the folk tradition, and built her own Paraguayan harp in Australia in 1993. She returned to Canada in 1998, where she now works full time as a musician.
Her other CD is "Harping On", in which she creates a similar atmosphere, blending Celtic, Latin America, and original music, with interesting rhythms and upbeat arrangements. To learn more about Alison Vardy and her recordings, you can visit her web page at

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"After the Fall" by Moira Nelson - Reviewed August 30th, 2001
Moira's newest CD (2001) showcases both her harp playing and singing/song-writing talents. She is joined by Elena Jubinville on cello and voice, Kathryn Moses on flute, and Rick Shadrach Lazar on percussion. All of the songs on the CD are written by Moira with the exception of two traditional English songs, the Cherry Tree Carol and My Johnny Was a Shoemaker. With titles like "Dream", "The Enchantress of the Wood", and "Moonfyre" (played on an Enchantress harp, no less), one definitely gets a sense of some mystical faery glen in an enchanted wood somewhere. My favourite parts of this CD were the instrumentals (there are four straight instrumental tracks, along with the songs) and the vocal arrangements on the Cherry Tree Carol and My Johnny. The arranging for both instruments and voices is creative and multi-layered.
Moira also has another CD, "Time Calls my Name" (1995). You can learn more about Moira and her various musical pursuits by visiting her web site at

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Other CD's
(older releases previously listed in our New CD Releases section - dates in italics represent dates announced on the CHP unless otherwise noted - for new CDs by the following artists please visit their websites)

  • Ann Heymann - Cruit go nÓr - Harp of Gold (released 2006). Another milestone for Gaelic harp pioneer Ann Heymann. The selections represent a millennium of musical traditions within which the Gaelic harp flourished. The repertory ventures from the monastic cell to the Chieftain's Great Hall and the English Royal Court, while the sources range from Irish mythology to notated manuscripts and remnants of an early, largely unwritten tradition. CD available for purchase online in Ireland at, in the UK and in the USA at, you can listen to the sample track at
  • Siobhán Armstrong - Cláirseach na hÉireann (released 2004). A recording of a facsimile copy of Ireland's only surviving medieval harp: the 14th/15th century Trinity College harp, strung both in brass and 18 carat gold. The main focus is the music of the 16th to 18th centuries by Irish harper composers. This CD also presents several pieces of Renaissance English music, of the kind which would have been played by Irish harpers working at the Elizabethan and Stuart courts. CD available for purchase online at; sample tracks are available at

Recent CD releases are listed in the Celtic Harp Page New CD Releases section on the Harp Music & Recordings page.