A review for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Kerry Dexter
When you think of the harp, you might think first of Celtic music, or perhaps the Latin American tradition, or perhaps you'll remember the harp as a player in the orchestra. Maybe, if you have seen Deborah Henson-Conant play, jazz on the harp will come to mind. On this instrumental album Harper Tasche ("sounds like 'mackintosh'", he says) adds another dimension to the instrument: Nordic harp.
Tasche's background is in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, and he draws images from those places as well to craft the thirteen cuts on this hour of music. That experience also informs his choice of works by other composers. There is a piece by Grieg (Solveig's Song) and Claude Bolling's Irlandaise, paired on the disc with the traditional An Giolla Ruadh (The Red Haired Boy), which Tasche remarks, he often plays to satisfy audiences who expect "that since my harps are small. my music must be Celtic." Ralph Vaughan Williams' hymn setting of The Call and a traditional French dance, Mazurka Michel, also find a place here.
Tasche plays these pieces with clarity and a distinct sense of style, with the dance and precision of the blue lights of the north. It is on his own compositions, though, that , the warmth of his vision comes through-the glints of gold within the blue. In particular Magnus Dancing, which he adapted from a Nordic hymn in memory of a family friend named Magnus, and Mountain Ash, in which Tasche recalls the light and shadow in a free where he used play in childhood, are outstanding. Other original tracks are Heading Home, Frieda's Waltz, Unknown Quantity, Just You, and Skua. The concluding piece is Spinning Stars. Tasche says of it: "Celestial spheres within spheres: the ancients saw in our skies the Great Bear circling Polaris, the cycles of sun and moon, of winter and summer, light and dark, waking and sleeping, life and death-circles and interconnection in everything. We ourselves are the spinning stars." Harper Tasche is a musician who is able to communicate his images as clearly without words.