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Resonance and rapture as harp meets guitar

Harpist Emily Granger and guitarist Andrew Blanch… “The quality of the music and the playing left a large audience in rapture.”

Music / Suite mágica: Andrew Blanch & Emily Granger. At Wesley Music Centre, February 8. Reviewed by ROB KENNEDY.

Harp and guitar do more than just blend well through their resonant qualities, they express musical content that is akin to a philosophy.

Guitarist Andrew Blanch and harpist Emily Granger are on an eight-city tour of Australia performing music from their album Suite Mágica; Thursday night was Canberra’s turn to hear them live.

In an overly warm Wesley Music Centre, the duo opened with Suite Mágica by Argentine guitarist and composer Máximo Diego Pujol. They plucked and strummed this sweet sad work in three movements that at first spoke of an introspective mood before moving to an upbeat piece that echoed from guitar to harp. To finish the first composition, a scherzo-like movement that danced and then went reflective. A delightful work that proved how well the two instruments flow together.

With a repertoire so slim for harp and guitar, Blanch and Granger have had to commission several works, and that started with one of Australia’s best composers, Elena Kats-Chernin. Her work Fleeting Encounters, which captured ephemeral moments of life’s encounters, offered a profound beauty.

The piece Tiny Dances by Sally Whitwell, another commission, in six movements, showed the composer has a talent for witty and original music. Through a cross section of quirky and comical pieces, two with a penetrating metronome accompanying, Whitwell’s compositions prove you can say and do anything with music. All were highly inventive and played with child-like enthusiasm.

Danzas Españolas, No. 6 by Enrique Granados, arranged by Richard Charlton, was a bright, highly rhythmic work that sounded so good on both instruments.

Tristan Coelho’s Forest Stories, was written for the duo and inspired by a place close to where Granger lives. A flowing, gentle work that seemed to mimic nature and wildlife and the contemplation that it offers us humans.

Fantasia Concertante by Brazilian guitarist and composer Marco Pereira finished the concert and what a work it was. In three movements and the longest piece of the night, it sang and flowed over many accidentals and beguiling tunes.

The quality of the music and the playing left a large audience in rapture as they warmly showed their appreciation for such fine playing. A short encore of a work titled Emily’s Song, not about Granger, but about the daughter of its composer Ross Edwards, which was as soft as a lullaby, brought the concert to a close.



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