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The Fibonacci Sequence Harp
Mikhail IPPOLITOV-IVANOV (1859-1935)

An Evening in Georgia

Camille SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921)

Fantaisie Op.124
Jan Ladislav DUSSEK (1760-1812)

Sonata in E flat Op.34
Mikhail Ivanovich GLINKA (1804-1857)

Der Zweifel

Arnold BAX (1883-1953)

Elegiac Trio

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Introduction and Allegro

Gillian Tingay (harp)
The Fibonacci Sequence: Christine Sohn and Ursula Gough (violins), Yuko Inoue (viola), Michael Sterling (cello), Anna Noakes (flute), Christopher O’Neal (oboe), Julian Farrell (clarinet), Richard Skinner (bassoon).
Rec. Norden Farm Centre for Arts, Maidenhead, Berkshire, date not given DDD
DEUX-ELLES DXL 1090 [61:16]


Fibonacci, aka. Leonardo of Pisa (1170-1230), was a mathematician. The sequence of numbers which bears his name has fascinated scientists for centuries. The essential principle of Fibonacci’s sequence is that each new number is the sum of the preceding two (e.g. 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21 …). Since this disc arrived, I have been pondering the relevance of this to music and have yet to come up with anything better than the possibility of the whole being more than the sum of its parts. But no matter, "The Fibonacci sequence" is a rather splendid name for a talented group of chamber musicians who were resident at Kingston University for eight years. On this disc, they are joined by harpist Gillian Tingay for a varied and attractive programme. She studied with Marisa Robles and is currently Professor of Harp at the Yehudi Menuhin School.

Ippolitov-Ivanov’s An Evening in Georgia is a delightful work for the harp and four woodwinds lasting about seven minutes. After a long and quite tantalizing introduction on the harp, the oboe enters with a slow and moving melody that leaves no doubt which Georgia the evening is being spent in ... and we’re not talking Atlanta here. The clarinet takes us into to a faster section reminiscent of Borodin before the oboe gets a reprise and the evening ends in perfect harmony among the instruments.

Saint-Saëns’ Fantaisie is for violin and harp and was written for the Eisler sisters in 1907. An extended work playing for over 13 minutes, it is quite characteristic of the composer.

Dussek’s Sonata is for violin, cello and harp and in three movements with a central andantino. The booklet tells us that Gillian Tingay regards this as one of the main pieces in the harp repertoire. The harp tends to lead but at times the violin combines as an equal partner. The cello plays the accompanying role. This is pleasant listening, very much in the same vein of the composer’s solo music for harp.

Der Zweifel is for the same combination of instruments as the Dussek but Glinka’s sound world is much more romantic. The booklet omits to tell us anything about the work, not even the English meaning of the title (which translates as "The Doubt"). There is a certain ambiguity of mood about this short piece, overall it is rather wistful and the role of the harp is purely an accompanying one.

Bax’s Elegiac Trio was written in 1916 in the wake of the Irish Easter uprising. The same combination of instruments (flute, viola and harp) was used by Debussy in a Sonata written one year previously but this seems to have been coincidence. Although there is an elegiac element in this work, it is not overpowering and feelings of hope also seem to be present.

Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro for flute, clarinet, harp and string quartet of 1905 is much the best known work here and provides a splendid conclusion to the programme.

I enjoyed the playing throughout this disc. Gillian Tingay plays most sensitively and her instrument makes a gorgeous sound. The members of the Fibonacci sequence invariably combine well and sound as if they are enjoying themselves. Comparisons with Mobius in the Bax (Naxos 8.554507) and the Melos Ensemble with Osian Ellis in their classic 1962 rendition of the Ravel revealed that the Fibonacci sequence tend to take their time in both works. This seems more advantageous in the Bax than the Ravel but in both works they create just the right atmosphere. In this they are helped by a stunning recording, beautifully balanced and with the perfect ambience. The documentation is generally satisfactory and largely based on an interview with Gillian Tingay covering the works on the disc. However, the print at the back containing essential information about the programme is too small.

Here, the whole certainly is more than the sum of the parts. Attractive music, very well-played and superbly recorded, this disc is a winner.

Patrick C Waller



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