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The Romantic Harp
Marcel GRANDJANY (1891 – 1975) Fantasy on a Theme of Haydn, Op. 31; Marcel TOURNIER (1879 – 1951) Vers la source dans le bois;
(1911 – 1979)
Sarabanda and Toccata;
Gabriel PIERNÉ
(1863 – 1937)
Impromptu-Caprice, Op. 9;
Manuel de FALLA (1876 – 1946) Spanish Dance No. 1 from ‘La Vida Breve’;
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845 – 1924)
Une Châtelaine en sa Tour, Op. 110; Impromptu, Op. 86;
Kelly-Marie MURPHY (b. 1964)
Harp Concerto ‘And then at night I paint the stars’ – III: Scintillation (Cadenza);
Sergei PROKOFIEV (1891 – 1953) Prelude in C, Op. 12, No. 7;
Carlos SALZÉDO (1885 – 1961) Ballade, Op. 28
Judy Loman (harp)
rec. St John Chrysostom Church, Newmarket, Ontario, Canada, 13-16 July, 21-23 Aug 2003.
NAXOS 8.554561 [59:25]



‘Agreeable’ sounds rather a damning-with-faint-praise word, critically speaking, but this is a very agreeable recording.

The playing is unquestionably of the first rank and the recording is sympathetic; to which one can add that the notes are biographically helpful and attractively done. The programme is diverse enough to keep interest and it also manages to promote the work of a contemporary (albeit in greatly abbreviated form) so that there should be something for anyone who warms to the arpeggiated, the unruffled effulgence of impressionist shimmer and a strong Parisian locus.

Grandjany, one of the leading French harpists, whose later American career saw some memorable recordings and a superb summit meeting with the Budapest Quartet (live, on Bridge) is represented by his Fantasy on a Theme of Haydn. No great surprises here except that Grandjany is in explicitly classical form, shorn of impressionistic garb.  Tournier contributes a very pianistic sounding Vers la source dans le bois which, in contradistinction to the Grandjany, has drunk well and deeply of Debussy’s influence.

Nino Rota moves from a certain formality to the full bloodedly filmic in his Sarabanda and Toccata – the latter being rather Gallic tinged and embodying some delicious chimes – whilst Pierné drums up some conservatoire virtuosity in his 1887 piece, then relaxes the cadential start for some old fashioned romanticism. The de Falla is very dextrously done whilst of the brace of Fauré pieces it’s the Impromptu, Op. 86, that makes the greater impression by virtue of its delicate pointing, pin point articulation and fine terraced dynamics.

There’s also pleasure to be taken in the one contemporary work, Kelly-Marie Murphy’s cadenza (only) from her Harp Concerto And then at night I paint the stars which has a pleasingly quicksilver and evocative patina.  And to end we have, like Grandjany, another august harpist in the figure of Carlos Salzedo whose influence in America was profound. His Ballade has its share of impressionist influence, but also a fresh air, almost salonesque mobility that commends it, topped with lashing of virtuosic demands and a youthful head of steam. It’s an especially fine way to end Judy Loman’s pleasing recital.

Jonathan Woolf

see also Review by Göran Forsling



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