One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,514 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Plain text for smartphones & printers

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month


From Ocean’s Floor


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience


Symphonies 1, 2, 3

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Danse sacrée et danse profane (1904) [9:59]
Petite Suite (1888-89) arr. Elizabeth Hainen [15:06]
Sonata for flute, viola and harp (1915) [17:04]
André CAPLET (1878-1925)
Divertissements (1924): À la Française in C [4:42]: À l’espagnole in E flat [5:44]
Conte fantastique (La Masque de la mort rouge) (1923) [16:51]
Elizabeth Hainen (harp): Jeffrey Khaner (flute): Roberto Díaz (viola)
IRIS Orchestra/Michael Stern
rec. March 2013, Gould Hall, Curtis Institute of Music
AVIE AV2285 [70:04]

This is a particularly fine example of good programming and sensitive and thoughtful chamber musicianship. The conjunction of Debussy and Caplet works very well, the introduction of the latter being especially welcome. There are two pieces that demand the participation of the IRIS Orchestra, directed by Michael Stern, the first being the Danse sacrée et danse profane. Elizabeth Hainen, whose photograph adorns the booklet cover, is the central focus of this and all other performances. She has been solo harpist of the Philadelphia Orchestra since 1994. The sound here, in a recording made in the Gould Hall of the Curtis Institute, is appropriately diaphanous but certainly has sufficient body. Effectively balanced, with the harp neither spotlit nor swamped, the performance is finely judged from all perspectives. And whilst I retain a fondness for that old live 1941 recording made by harpist extraordinaire Marcel Grandjany and the Budapest Quartet, one must acknowledge that we are not comparing like with like. It’s on Bridge, by the way.

Hainen herself has arranged the Petite Suite for harp. The sound here is deliberately a little more forward but sonorities remain delightfully rich. Few would decry the arrangement which sounds like a more-than-effective contribution to the harpist’s art. The Sonata for flute, viola and harp introduces flautist Jeffrey Khaner and violist Roberto Díaz. Both are well-known colleagues of the harpist and no strangers to recording, and I have reviewed both men’s work over the years. Khaner has been the Philadelphia’s principal flute for almost a quarter of a century, and Díaz is now the President of Curtis, having been the former principal viola of the Philadelphia. The recording of the Sonata is as successful as one would have hoped; light, well-balanced, refined, and full of colour and fancy.

Caplet is represented first by Divertissements, about which, regarding the first, À la française, the word ‘glistening’ is the mot juste - it belongs to Hainen in her booklet note. The dramatic guitar-strumming evocations in the second of the panel, the Spanish movement, have more than a whiff of Seville and move from mere whispers of sound to extrovert Iberian passion. The Légende was composed for chromatic harp and orchestra in 1908 and later turned into Conte fantastique for pedal harp or piano and string quartet in 1923. The literary source is Poe’s The Masque of the Red Death and Caplet’s means are almost cinematic in the juddering string writing and angst. The feverish intensity never lets up, the knocks on the soundboard of the harp startling in their doom-laden portent. This is a vivid dance of death, a kind of lurid tone poem of evil, brilliantly realised here.

It caps this disc excellently, tracing a course from diaphanous to devilry, and all impeccably performed.

Jonathan Woolf