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Pippa Reid-Foster Pippa Reid-Foster
Album: Driftwood Harp
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 10
Website: http://www.pippareidfoster.com

Pippa is based in Helensburgh, and plays the Scottish harp (clarsach). A graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Pippa has a busy schedule of teaching and running workshops, so it's good that she's found the time to record a solo CD. It's a gently captivating disc, on which Pippa conjures in sound the beautiful and dramatic landscape of her own native Argyll.

The material she plays is almost entirely contemporary, although rooted in tradition, and over half of the pieces are of her own composition. Pictorial rather than specifically programmatic, these evoke, rather than depict, actual places and activities - from the sacred isle of Iona to herring lassies, steam boats on the Crinan Canal to specific personalities (in this case, Deirdre and Laois of Irish legend on the disc's marvellously poised final piece).

Pippa's treatment of her chosen instrument is loving and respectful, while she is also keen to experiment with ambient textures and layering, as on Elements 1 and the opening tone-poem The Selkie, both of which take a leisurely seven minutes to explore their subject in sound. The faster pieces are played with a relaxed niftiness that's very appealing - there's a lovely set of jigs at track 2, for instance.

The only traditional piece on the disc is The Mermaid Song, which draws on the melody of the Gaelic song Oran na Maighdinn Mhara; this receives a lovely lyrical reading from Pippa. Summing up, you don't need to be a harp enthusiast to enjoy Pippa's graceful and animated playing and appreciate the many fine points of her delightful musicianship.

David Kidman