Jean-Baptiste CARDON (1760-1803)
Concerto for 2 Harps, Violin and Cello, op.21 [13:52]
Trio for Harp, Violin and Viola, op.9 no.1 [17:20]
Trio for Harp, Violin and Viola, op.9 no.2 [17:29]
Sonata for Harp with Violin, op.10 no.1 [13:28]
Sonata for Harp with Violin, op.10 no.3 [15:23]
Rachel Talitman (harp)
Tigran Maytesian (violin)
Erwin Liénart (violin)
Igal Braslavsky (viola)
Karolina Mariarz (cello)
rec. no information provided. DDD
HARP & CO. CD-5050-23 [77:30]
By the age of twenty Jean-Baptiste Cardon had gained European-wide renown as a harp virtuoso and teacher. Many of his works, all of which feature the harp, were dedicated to prominent aristocrats in France, Russia and Britain. As harpist to the Russian royal family between 1790 and 1793 he was paid an astounding three million roubles. Besides his music, Cardon wrote an influential method on harp playing, published in Paris in 1785 as his op. 12.
This release features a selection of his music - most of which, unfortunately, was published undated. The five works are all in two movements, the first an allegro in every case, the second a rondo (variations in the first Trio), but the music is anything but samey. Indeed, the reasons for Cardon's modern obscurity are not clear - this is outstanding music from beginning to end. It is often virtuosic - but not for its own sake, wonderfully mellifluous and endlessly inventive. This is not only true of the harp writing - the violin music in the two sonatas, for example, is quite stunning, far more than mere accompaniment. What a loss to music his early death was.
On the face of it, the accompanying booklet is attractive, with its glossy pages and colour pictures. However, the notes are very brief - a single side, with very little about the individual pieces - and poorly edited, with punctuation all over the place and the occasional silly typing error, such as: "Fleeing the French Revolution in 1974, he..." The notes themselves have been written by a non-native speaker of English, giving a few gawky sentences like: "Young, he settled in Paris by Marie Therese of Savoy".
Why do so many labels undermine the quality of their products by not hiring a competent proof-reader? In Harp & Co's case, even their word-processing is suspect - the back inlay is a mess of misaligned columns, poor punctuation, spelling mistakes (e.g. 'tropo' for 'troppo'), a suspect opus number (according to New Grove, Cardon's op. 9 is a set of sonatas for harp & violin accompaniment), and even a track timing for a non-existent track! There is also, inexplicably, a complete absence of any information about the performers - not even which of the two named violinists is playing where. Buyers must content themselves with a single photograph and resort to Google.
On the other hand, the recording is very good indeed - a pity there is no mention of where or when it was made - with a superb balance between soloists. The problems with the booklet should not be allowed to detract from the fact that this is a very good production generously crammed with excellent music beautifully played.
A very good production generously crammed with excellent music beautifully played.