This new partnership between Irish guitarist Paul de Grae and Belgian harpist Reidun Schlesinger is a strong musical association, as evidenced by a cracker of a debut album, featuring harp and guitar music from multiple sources, but primarily Irish in origin. A sublime set of Belgian dances (Bourrée De Theux and Maclotte De Habiemont) gives the pair of them an ideal opportunity to demonstrate how they can harmonise their two instruments to effect. Playford is represented by a cracking trio (Once I Loved A Maiden Fair/The Hole In The Walls/All In A Garden Green). The variations on the Jacobite tune, The Blackbird, are another highlight, but my personal favourite must be the medley, The Galway Hornpipe, The Golden Eagle and The Independent Hornpipe.
There are even a couple of jazz selections – Rève d’Automne (Autumn Dream or Autumn Leaves) and Brubeck’s I’m Still In Love With A Girl Named Oli, as well as the customary Carolans.
This entire album was recorded in a ‘live’ setting (primarily so that it reflected their touring set and can thus be readily reproduced), without overdubs or guest musicians, and this is incredible when you appreciate how full the sound of the finished article is. It’s a long time since I heard so accomplished a first album, and having heard some wonderful offerings by other artistes over the past year, I can hand on heart say that this is my favourite, just sneaking under the wire at the tail end of 2016. Happy listening.