‘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.
see also Review
by Göran Forsling