20th Century Harp Classics
William MATHIAS (1934 - 1992) Santa Fe Suite (1988) [12:40]
Gabriel FAURÉ (1845 - 1924) Une Châtelaine en sa Tour, Op. 110 (1918) [4.54]
Marcel TOURNIER (1879 - 1951) Etude de Concert - Au matin (1925) [3.52]
Paul HINDEMITH (1895 - 1963) Sonata for Harp (1939) [10:20]
Albert ROUSSEL (1869 - 1937) Impromptu, Op. 21 (1919) [6.26]
Germaine TAILLEFERRE (1892 - 1983) Sonata for Harp (1957) [10:57]
Malcolm ARNOLD (1921-2006) Fantasy for Harp, Op. 117 (1975) [10:29]
Benjamin BRITTEN (1913 - 1976) Suite for Harp, Op. 83 [14:09]
William MATHIAS (1934 - 1992) Improvisations for Harp, Op. 10 (1958) [5:17]
Elinor Bennett (harp)
rec. Concert Hall of the Nimbus Foundation, Wyastone Leys, Monmouth, 6-8 December 1993.
NIMBUS NI 5441 [79:04]
There are some really fine harp recital discs around and this is of that company. It’s generously timed too. Elinor Bennett already had a recital for harp and flute (Judith Hall) in the Nimbus catalogue (NI5247). This was cordially received by Carla Rees and I am going to be no less welcoming with this disc. Nimbus have been a home to Mathias’s music and here we encounter the world premiere recording of the three movement Santa Fe Suite (Landscape; Nocturne and Sun Dance). The music inspired by a visit to Santa Fe for a Mathias festival in 1987 is sumptuous, Hispanic, warm and imaginative. The disc ends with the same composer’s concise and dewily virtuosic and at times dark Improvisations for Harp. He also wrote a Sonata and a Concerto written for Osian Ellis. The Verlaine-inspired Fauré is softly and coaxingly gentle. NI5247 includes a Tournier piece and here his Etude de Concert – Au Matin is an enchanting miniature. The Hindemith Sonata is one of his myriad for all or most of the instruments of the orchestra. It is expertly and decorously laid out and is far from unemotional. The Roussel Impromptu is magically natural in its progress and impressionistic in its character. Tailleferre’s Sonata was written for Nicanor Zabaleta. Its three movements describe a pleasing classical arc – dancing, serenading and quietly musing. Arnold’s Suite dates from his alcohol-glazed Dublin years and was premiered by Osian Ellis in London in 1976. Its five short movements are gracefully romantic. The Britten Suite was written for Ellis whose instrument played a leading role in Britten’s three church cantatas. The five movements are beguilingly provocative. The complementary extensive English-only notes are by Geraint Lewis. It is a measure of Nimbus’s standards that they have included the poems that provide the focus for the Fauré and the finale of the Hindemith (original language and English translation).
Harp enthusiasts as well as followers of British music of the last century should not miss out on this otherwise rather overlooked anthology.


Rob Barnett
Harp enthusiasts as well as followers of British music of the last century should nt miss out on this otherwise rather overlooked anthology.