Mabel Dolmestch harp recordings
The work done in the 1930s by Arnold and Mabel Dolmetsch on the medieval Welsh music, and the harps that Arnold made, both gut-strung and wire-strung, have always been known about, but I had never suspected or seen a reference to them doing any work on the Irish harp music.
Mabel clearly loved the sound of the harps Arnold had made and fitted with wire strings, following the historical Irish and Scottish Gaelic tradition:
“ ...the small, metal-strung variety, favoured in Ireland, and the Highlands of Scotland, under the name of Clarsach. I never ceased to thank him for producing these most fascinating of instruments, whose suavely tuneful music rejoices the heart and charms the senses. One day when I was recreating myself with one of these little instruments, a neighbour who had asked if she might use our telephone, came running into the music room, exclaiming: ‘Oh, what are those lovely sounds? That is the kind of music I want to hear when I am dying!’ „
Mabel Dolmetsch, Personal Recollections of Arnold Dolmetsch, RKP, 1957, p148
I 2013 I discovered some unreleased one-off recordings from 1937, the same year as the Welsh gramophone records were published, of Mabel playing Irish harp music from Bunting’s 1809 collection. I think these recordings must be the first ever recordings of early Irish harp music.
This, the first side of the 10 inch disc, has 5 short tracks.
“The Lord of Salisbury, His Pavan and Galliard, by William Byrd”
Performed on clavichord, and announced, by Arnold Dolmetsch: “Hopeless!”