DIEGO LAVERDE / TRISTAN LE GOVIC & LISE ENOCHSSON MERCHISTON CASTLE SCHOOL, EDINBURGH ****
CELEBRATING its 30th anniversary, the Edinburgh International Harp Festival has long been in the vanguard in highlighting the diversity of harping traditions, and their contemporary cross-fertilisation with other musical influences. Both elements of its programming were exemplified in this double bill, opened by the pairing of Breton-born harpist Tristan Le Govic and Swedish singer Lise Enochsson, joined here by the jazz-inflected double bass and percussion of Stuart Macpherson and Roy Shearer. While Le Govic was decidedly hampered by a severe tendon problem in his right shoulder, thus playing mainly one-handed, he displayed admirable stagecraft by turning the affliction into a running gag, and though his role was inevitably weakened, his arrangements' rhythmic flair and imagination shone through. Enochsson's vividly liquid, piquant singing created an arresting synthesis between Nordic and Celtic tonalities, particularly in her beautiful Swedish translation of a traditional Gaelic love lament.
From the opposite end of the hemisphere, Diego Laverde is a leading exponent of the arpa llanera, which evolved from colonially imported instruments in the lowland region between Venezuela and his native Colombia. With his innovation of gut strings at the bass end, complementing the melodies' silvery, scintillating timbre with roundness and resonance, he performed a sophisticated mix of contemporary compositions, at once distinct from and interwoven with other Latin idioms, superbly partnered by percussionist Wilmer Sifontes.