Review by Mike Wilson published by Green Man Review All rights reserved and posted under kind permission of the author
'Y Ffordd I Aberystwyth' (The Road To Aberystwyth) is a beautiful album of Welsh triple harp music, from one of the instrument's finest exponents। A great way to continue my exploration of traditional Welsh music, and experience considerable serenity along the way! The intricate, delicate sound of the Welsh triple harp is an absolute beauty to behold, and Robin Huw Bowen skilfully harnesses its winsome charisma to the most breathtaking effect on The Road To Aberystwyth, his latest solo effort. This collection brings together a wonderful assortment of melodies -- mostly traditional, but accompanied by a couple of Bowen-penned compositions.
The many layers of sound that the triple harp creates provide much to keep the listener engaged. Flourishes of sound effortlessly change direction, building to crescendos then melting away. The poise and elegance of the slower pieces is divine, whilst the more up-tempo arrangements have an air of exhilaration as Bowen's fingers ripple across the strings.
The tunes encompass jigs, hornpipes, waltzes and polkas, many of them interpretations of tunes written for other instruments and given a whole new life by Bowen's interpretations. Produced by the ubiquitous Maartin Allcock (former member of Fairport Convention), the sound is crisp throughout with a clarity that perfectly captures this beautiful instrument's chiming resonance.
The first track, "The Hedgehog Hunt," opens proceedings in a relaxed manner, combining a fiddler's jig, "Ladies A-Dance," with a jig learned from the Welsh Gypsy harpist Eldra Jarman. Further jigs and pulsating hornpipes provide for a less formal sound, whilst "Napoleonic Set" offers a more regimental, rigid arrangement.
The bilingual sleeve notes offer a brief history of Bowen himself, along with a fascinating history of each tune, attesting to the comprehensive passion and knowledge that Bowen has for both instrument and material. The Road To Aberystwyth makes for a thoroughly absorbing listen, one that transports the listener to an enchanting landscape of serenity and mysticism।
- Trwy'r Weiar - Through the Wire (1987) with Mabsant
- Telyn Berseiniol Fy Ngwlad - Sweet Harp of My Land (1991)
- Cusan Tân - Kiss of Fire (1992) with Cusan Tân
- Hela'r Draenog - Hunting the Hedgehog (1994)
- Cerddoriaeth Telyn Cymru - Harp Music Of Wales (1995)
- Esgair - The Ridge (1996) with Cusan Tân
- Hen Aelwyd - Old Hearth (1999)
- Crasdant (1999) with Crasdant
- Nos Sadwrn Bach - Not Yet Saturday (2001) with Crasdant
- Yn y Gwaed - In the Blood (2004) with Rhes Ganol
- Dwndwr - The Great Noise (2005) with Crasdant
- Y Ffordd i Aberystwyth - The Road to Aberystwyth (2007)