These are wonderful pieces, with only perhaps the Rodrigo at all well-known today, and then only because of his famous guitar concertos. Boieldieu was a very good composer, and his harp concerto is often breathtakingly beautiful; if the theme of the finale isn't the last word in elegant pathos then nothing is. The Villa-Lobos sounds just like–Villa-Lobos: rich, exotic, heavily scored, and voluptuous. It's a big work in four movements. The lively and lovely Rodrigo needs no introduction, save to note that it's one of his very best works in any medium.
In many ways, Debussy’s piano music finds its rightful home on the harp. Apart from the distinctive textural and colouristic elements in the writing itself, we have contemporary accounts of Debussy’s piano-playing that refer to his ability to make you forget a piano even had hammers. Of course, this doesn’t allow for dreamy, “impressionistic” interpretations; rather, it makes clarity and precision absolute imperatives – which qualities we find in abundance in this recital by Xavier de Maistre and friends.
The second instalment of the Poenitz cycle on Brilliant Classics presents works for solo voice, accompanied by harp(s) and harmonium. The unique instrumental colours lend a special atmosphere to these intimate and deeply felt works, often on sacred texts. Franz Poenitz was not only a virtuoso on the harp (as is clearly evident in the rich and complex writing for his instrument in this music) but also an accomplished painter, one of his creations adorns the cover of the CD. New recording, with liner notes written by a descendant of Poenitz, Mr Andreas Fischer.
Yolanda Kondonassis' skill on the harp is legendary. So too are her arrangements for the instrument. Many times you hear arrangements that restate the composer's original themes, but don't make the music fit the instrument. I often feel this way about much of Bach's music on the piano. Other times you find arrangements that stretch beyond the original in ways that get in the way. For me, the best example of this is the Stokowski arrangements of Bach's organ works for orchestra.
Brilliant performance with crystal clear recording and balance of orchestra against harp in all sections. A masterpiece of harp virtuosity if you are among the lucky individuals to own this recording at any price!
Boris Tishchenko, often considered to be the direct musical heir of Shostakovich, maintained a prolific output across all genres. The concise vocal trios – one written in memory of the composer’s brother – are alternately plaintive and urgent. The five movements of the Harp Concerto are played without pause, and the work is significant for expanding the harp’s expressive range and requiring the soloist to alternate between two instruments.
Thirteenth-century troubador Gautier de Coincy's blend of mystical religious poetry and the popular tunes to which he set his poems proves irresistible, especially in the Harp Consort's lively renditions. Given the nature of the material, the sheer variety of rhythms, sounds, and colors on this disc is astounding; the vocal soloists are all excellent, the small chorus adept, captivating when it sings in the gutsy peasant style at appropriate moments. Eight purely instrumental numbers are sprinkled throughout the 20 tracks, each a gem, full of colorful effects from the rich-sounding shawm and other period instruments like bagpipe, vielle, and a variety of percussion instruments that thump and shimmer in ways that make you want to dance.