The Masterharper of Pern CD [ ** ]
Available at Anne McCaffrey's website.
Anne McCaffrey's dragonriders of Pern were my introduction to 'adult' science fiction when I was young, and my favorite character was (and still is) the Masterharper, Robinton. As a kidling I used to make up tunes to fit the lyrics McCaffrey would often excerpt at the beginning of chapters. Imagine my delight, then, to finally see a CD of songs from Pern! I'd been waiting for an opportunity to purchase this relatively obscure disc, and found it finally at a filk-dealer's table at Chicon 2000.
Production values for 'The Masterharper of Pern' are higher than I've come to expect of filk CDs. The recordings are clear and the performers professionals. I have no complaints about the quality of the product.
The content, though . . . most of the tracks are instrumentals, which is a disappointment. They sound like typical Renaissance Festival fare, and don't evoke Pern at all to me. They're well-recorded, and good for that kind of music, but I had been hoping for more songs with lyrics: Moreta's Ride, maybe, Menolly's Fire Lizard Queen song, or her Brekke's Lament, signature Pern pieces.
There are a handful of songs with lyrics which I feel ambivalent about. While most of them have catchy or pretty melodies, all of them suffer from not ending soon enough; there isn't enough variation in the melody to support the length of the typical track. This is folk music, obviously, not fine art.
Which brings me to my final problem with this CD: it's supposed to represent the work of a seminal artist in the universe, Robinton himself. Here is a lesson learned: if you're going to present music composed by a fictional world's equivalent of Mozart, you should find someone with the talent of a Mozart to do the music. While the musicians responsible for 'The Masterharper of Pern' are capable and talented, I just can't imagine Robinton being responsible for anything less than stunning.
In summary: If you like Ren Fest-style music, this CD should please you. If you're used to the 'Buying one CD for the sake of one or two songs' phenomenon, then you might consider this CD for its more interesting tracks ("Red Star Passes" is particularly haunting). But if you're looking for a solid CD from Pern's most celebrated musician, you can join me on my continuing search. No pun intended.