Classical Editor: Rob Barnett                               Music Webmaster Len Mullenger:

Music for Flute and Harp
William ALWYN "Naiades".
Henk BADINGS "Ballade"
Benjamin BRITTEN "Suite for Harp", Op.83
Atli Heimir SVEINSSON Intermezzo from "Dimmalimm"
Franz SCHUBERT Sonata in A minor, "Arpeggione"

Elisabet Waage, Harp. Peter Verduyn Lunel, Flute.
AC Classics AC94001 [DDD 66:28]
This disc can be purchased from the importer:
Silver Service CDs, 14 Balmoral Avenue, Shepshed, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE12 9PX
Tel +44(0) 1509 829301 Fax +44(0) 1509 829302

This disc comes with a high recommendation indeed. Embossed on the front cover are the words "Recommended by Yehudi Menuhin", and, on the final page of the booklet, the complete testimonial duly signed by the great man. Quite how Menuhin came to be involved with the recording or artists we do not know. The musicians are new to me, Peter Verduyn Lunel being Dutch and having played with, amongst others, the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and Netherlands Ballet Orchestra, whilst Elisabet Waage is Icelandic and divides her time between Iceland where she plays with the Icelandic Symphony Orchestra and Holland.

The music appears at first glance to be an interestingly eclectic mix although the works by William Alwyn and the Dutchman Henk Badings, who were almost exact contemporaries, inhabit a curiously similar sound world. Alwyn's wonderfully atmospheric tone picture of water nymphs is, as always with Alwyn, beautifully crafted and superbly written for the flute, which was the composer's own instrument. The suitably "watery" textures of the music are well exploited by Lunel and Waage with some particularly limpid flute playing which admirably captures the spirit of the music. Like Alwyn, Henk Badings taught for much of his life. His Ballade was written in 1950 and at nearly fourteen and a half minutes is a substantial work. Again like Alwyn, Badings exploits the colouristic possibilities of the instruments to the full, combining textural subtlety with music of melodic interest which he binds together to form a convincing and satisfying whole. The artists play with sensitivity and demonstrate an impressive range of expression.

Britten's Suite for Harp receives a similarly committed performance from Elisabet Waage. Written for Osian Ellis this was Britten's only solo work for the harp although anyone familiar with A Ceremony of Carols will immediately recognise the idiomatic writing for the instrument. In five movements which include a lively Toccata, a haunting Nocturne and an agile Fugue, Britten brilliantly contrasts the many facets of the instrument whilst Waage demonstrates both delicacy and clarity in the faster passages.

After a brief but attractive Intermezzo by the Icelandic composer Atli Heimir Sveinsson based on the folklore of his native country the disc concludes with the much re-arranged "Arpeggione" sonata of Schubert. The ill fated Arpeggione (effectively a kind of six stringed cello with fretted finger board) has long since disappeared, but we are used to hearing this work performed on a string instrument with piano accompaniment. Despite the sensitive performance which it here receives, something of the richness of the work is lost with this combination of instruments. The playing is enjoyable nonetheless.

In summary, an attractive disc, which is most valuable for the inclusion of the two fine works by Alwyn and Badings. The quality of the recording is excellent with a natural sounding acoustic and admirable clarity of detail.

Christopher Thomas.

Performance and sound

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