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|Songs Without Words:
Music for Flute and Harp
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Without Words (1825-1845): Andante Espressivo Op. 85
No. 1 [1.55] Andante, un poco agitato Op. 102 No.
4 [1:51] Wiegenlied Op. 67 No. 6 [2:01] Andante Op.
67 No. 1 [2:10] Con Moto Op. 38 No. 1 [2:06]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Songs: Abendempfindung KV523 (1787) [3:36]
Zither KV367b (1781) [1:52]
Peter Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
from Pique Dame, Act 1 (1890) [2:21] Pietro
Cavalleria Rusticana (1890): Siciliana [2:32]
Romanesca Antica from Don
Quixote (1910) [1:59]
Without Words (1825-1845): Andante Espressivo Op. 62 No.
1 [1:50] Adagio Op. 102 No. 2 [1:47] Andante sostenuto
Op. 85 No. 4 [2:12] Venetianisches Gondellied Op. 30 No.
Gabriel FAURE (1945-1924)
Chanson d’Amour Op. 27 No. 1 (1882) [2:03] En Prière (1898)
[2:10] Après un Rêve Op. 7 No. 1 (1878) [2:26] Ici-bas
Op. 8 No. 3 (c1874) [1:39]
Francis POULENC (1899-1963)
A sa guitar (1935)
Manuel DE FALLA (1976-1946)
(Berceuse) from Seven Popular Spanish Songs (1914-15) [2:19]
Soneta a Córdoba (1927) [2:16]
from Scheherazade Op. 35 (1888) [4:42]
Romanian Folk Songs
Song-Drinking Song: Who’s put the pub in my way? [3:39]
Andrea Kollé (flute);
Jasmine Vollmer (harp)
rec. 28-30 Sept 2007, Alte Kirche Boswil, Switzerland.
This CD comprises
twenty-four short transcribed works for flute and harp, the
majority of which was composed in the late 1800s.
disc begins with a selection from Mendelssohn’s Songs
Without Words, which give their name to this CD. Originally
intended for solo piano, these transcriptions work well
for flute and harp. They are performed with a lightness
of touch which captures the style well. Mendelssohn composed
48 of these short pieces in total, and this disc contains
arrangements of nine in two sets.
Mozart songs which follow have perhaps a little more harmonic
substance and variety, but share the same lightness. In
contrast, the opening of Tchaikovsky’s Romance from Pique
Dame is gloriously dark and veers away from the stereotype
of a pretty and angelic flute and harp sound. I also very
much enjoyed the Siciliana from Cavalleria Rusticana,
although the Intermezzo wasn’t quite as convincing
as a transcription – somehow it just didn’t have the same
strength and passion as a string orchestra, and some of
the phrasing was not as stylized as I would have liked.
the enjoyable Romanesca Antica by Massenet, the
music returns to Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words, with
a second selection of four of the songs. I particularly
enjoyed the last of these, the Venetian Gondola Song ,
which communicated a strong sense of musical involvement
from both the players.
are then taken to French salon music, with songs by Fauré.
These suit the combination very well, with the harp providing
gentle accompaniment under emotive flute melodies. There
is some beautiful playing here and a much greater musical
depth is apparent.
opening of Poulenc’s A sa Gitare is instantly demanding
of attention, due to the change of harp sound, mimicking
a guitar. This is highly effective and a very welcome change
of timbre. This piece takes on the style of a medieval
lute song, with the words from the original version for
voice and harp coming from a 16th century text.
Poulenc is expert at combining elements from the old and
the new, and his twentieth century voice is unmistakable.
performance of Manuel De Falla’s Nana is haunting,
simple and lovely. The Soneta a Córdoba is refreshingly
modern and entirely convincing. Although I was initially
a little unsure about the Scheherezade transcription,
it was so well performed that in the end I was almost convinced.
There are some strange cuts from the orchestral version,
which are at times jarring, but in essence parts of this
work extremely well, not least the rhapsodic sections,
which are performed here with sensitivity and understanding.
Perhaps curiously, the disc ends with a Romanian Folk Tune,
entitled ‘who’s put the pub in my way?’ Finishing
the CD with this was a stroke of genius. It shows humour,
humility, a completely different style of playing, and
gives a sense of the personality of these performers. Thoroughly
of the big problems with flute and harp as a combination,
I believe, and speaking also as someone who has played
in this combination for many years, is variety of sound.
The two instruments together produce a wonderful sonority,
which has been exploited in many ways by a wide combination
of composers. But programming is difficult, because after
a while the sound can become sickly-sweet, and can fall
into the trap of stereotyped, pretty music. When I first
received this CD it seemed like another disc of nice-sounding,
undemanding repertoire. To an extent, of course, it is,
but it goes beyond that. The performers treat each of the
works differently, and perform with sensitivity, intelligence
and excellent communication. The programming is interesting
and imaginative, and put together with much thought. This
duo has only been working together since 2005; I very much
look forward to more from them in the future.
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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