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Songs Without Words: Music for Flute and Harp
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Songs 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)
Two Songs: Abendempfindung KV523 (1787) [3:36]
Komm, liebe Zither KV367b (1781) [1:52]
Peter Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Romance from Pique Dame, Act 1 (1890) [2:21] Pietro MASCAGNI (1863-1945)
Cavalleria Rusticana (1890): Siciliana [2:32] Intermezzo [2:35]
Jules MASSENET (1942-1912)
Romanesca Antica from Don Quixote (1910) [1:59]
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Songs 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. 6 [2:23]
Gabriel FAURE (1945-1924)
Mélodies: 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) [2:42]
Manuel DE FALLA (1976-1946)
Nana (Berceuse) from Seven Popular Spanish Songs (1914-15) [2:19]
Soneta a Córdoba (1927) [2:16]
Nikolai RIMSKY-KORSAKOV (1844-1908)
Arab Song from Scheherazade Op. 35 (1888) [4:42]
Romanian Folk Songs
Cradle 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. DDD
GUILD GMCD7316 [58:28]
Experience Classicsonline


This CD comprises twenty-four short transcribed works for flute and harp, the majority of which was composed in the late 1800s.
 
The 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.
 
The 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.
 
Following 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 [15], which communicated a strong sense of musical involvement from both the players.
 
We 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. 
The 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.
 
The 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 enjoyable.
 
One 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.
 
Carla Rees
 


 


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