One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

DI Music
phone 0161 491 6655
fax 0161 491 6688

Harp of wild and dreamlike Strain: Victorian Fairy Harp Music
Felix GODEFROID Ballade de la Fée [6:19]
Charles OBETHÜR A Fairy Legend [8:19]
Giorgio LORENZI Ondina (Waterspirit) [5:53]
John Balsir CHATTERTON Recollections of the Enchantress [6:40]
Charles OBERTHÜR Two Musical Poems: In Twilight Hour [4:50]
Charles OBERTHÜR Two Musical Poems: In Fairyland [2:40]
Charles OBERTHÜR Conte de Fées [8:58]
Charles OBERTHÜR Le Réveil des Elfes [7:28]
Felix GODEFROID Choeur de Nymphes [4:06]
Angelo BOVIO La Danza degli Spiriti [9:52]
Elizabeth Jane Baldry (harp)
Recorded at Buckland Manor, Devonshire, UK, recording dates undisclosed DDD
CAMEO 2025 [65:42]

‘The Victorian Era’: those words bring to mind a myriad images. Many of them are of fictional characters introduced to us by Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Joseph Conrad or the Bronte sisters. Then there are the works of those such as Hans Christian Anderson, Lewis Carroll, the Brothers Grimm or J.M. Barrie where the fantastic is realized in an all-too gritty world. When one looks upon the art and children’s literature of the period, one begins to realize that the Victorians were fascinated by fairies in the same way that our society has enamored itself with aliens from outer-space. In the 1800s, this extended into the realm of music for at least a handful of composers of harp music. Much of this music was ignored for decades as the Victorian era ended abruptly with World War I. Considering the current resurgence in interest of all things fantastic it seems especially appropriate that this music would be put on disc for a public fascinated by the world of Tolkien, Harry Potter, and the fey.

This album is a collection of harp music concerned with the Victorian world of the faerie. Both the collection and the individual works in isolation are intended to be ethereal and otherworldly, even when aurally depicting the fluttering energy of the garden-dwelling sprites, winging about on gossamer wings. Each piece here is a tone poem of sorts, based on either images or stories that the average Victorian would be able to place. At the same time, when taken as a whole, this is music intended to transport the listener to a realm far more magical and beautiful than the mundane world in which they dwelt.

As such, the music is an aural tapestry of pleasant consonance and occasional virtuosic display. The attempt to create an environment conducive to total relaxation and near-mystical transport is largely successful. The performances are technically very good, and executed in a hall very conducive to the type of ambience inducing reverb that one would desire for this genre. The overall effect is all that could be asked for.

The works themselves are so prototypical, when one considers solo harp work, that it is only through utter flawlessness of performance that they become distinctive. Ms. Baldry does a very nice job giving them all the character that one could expect. The selections are easily representative of the genre. Close your eyes and envisage harp music, complete with a Disney-drawn light coming down from heaven and an angel playing; you now know what it is that this CD contains. This cannot be considered a flaw however, as it would be difficult to find an album of harp music that would not sound trite while simultaneously being so illustrative. The composers themselves are no longer particularly well known, and the works unfamiliar yet the entire disc seems as if it could be a single longer work for solo harp.

As harp music has generally fallen out of favour in the popular music market, and the composers represented somewhat outside of the public consciousness, this album may be one that the average listener would not consider. However, with the stressful lives that many of us subject ourselves to regularly, this disc may indeed be a very pleasing one to add to a collection. It is very relaxing without seeming at all like canned Muzak or New-Age influenced electronic drivel. It does a commendable job of serving as background, or as the sonic equivalent of a warm bubble bath. Surely the faeries would be glad to know that they could bring so much joy with their song. Should a user already have a favorite anthology of incidental harp music, this probably would not readily stand apart. However, if you discover your music collection lacks this element, this disc could plausibly be considered as filling the gap in your CD rack.

Patrick Gary

Return to Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.