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Anthony GIRARD (b. 1959)
Music for Harp
Voyage au gré des illusions (A Journey through illusions) Double Concerto for violin, harp and string orchestra (2011) [18:08]
La Colombe et le Lys (The Dove and the Lily) for harp and string quartet (2008) [16:14]
Entre le souffle et le murmure (Between breath and whisper) for flute, viola and harp (2010) [22:47]
Plus haut que les oiseaux (Higher than the birds) (1991) [14:10]
Rachel Talitman (harp)
Alexei Moshkov (violin); Marcos Fregnani-Martins (flute); Pierre-Henri Xuereb (viola); Antoine Maisonhaute (violin); Jan Peters (violin); Maxime Desert (viola); Jeanne Maisonhaute (cello)
Orchestre Il Sono/Michel Lysight
rec. no details supplied
first recordings
HARP & COMPANY CD5050-36 [71:09]

The Belgian label Harp & Company have a full catalogue and if you adore the harp you need to seek out its website.  This disc is devoted to four harp-centred or harp-involved works. New York-born composer, Girard has written some 150 compositions involving the voice as well as the orchestra and chamber groupings. He teaches orchestration at the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional de Paris. Girard's Naxos collection was reviewed by Roy Westbrook earlier this year (2016).

Clearly Girard has a penchant for inventively allusive titles and these echo the choices made by Messiaen. His music is quite different. It is contemplative and fanciful but in a cool way: surreal and not dissonant. It is not religious except in a very generalised sense. He reminds me of Marjan Mozetich's Passion of Angels and Affairs of the Heart the titles and idiom of which have a similar resonance. The atmosphere also recalls that of Russian music Igor Zhukov but is not as densely complex. In the Double Concerto, Voyage au gré des illusions transparent textures are favoured. The composer is not afraid to slow the tempo to allow the various musical strands to float into and remain in focus. The solo violin, in mutually advantageous communion with the harp and the minimally detailed orchestra, reaches out to the listener. The style is intimate as if it is some companion of The Lark Ascending yet blended with minimalist methods. It is in a single track as are all the works here. The score is dedicated to harpist Rachel Talitman. La Colombe et le Lys is a thing of slender wings that beat fast and slow, sturdy businesslike rhythmic reiterated patterns, an almost sinister quality and a serious, sincere understated manner. The music's reflective face recalls the slightly chilly romance that became a speciality of Bernard Herrmann. The title refers to the Dove as messenger of the Holy Spirit and the Lily as a symbol of mystical surrender to divine will. Entre le souffle et le murmure is a work of warm expression but is typically unhurried. Tendrils of ideas unfold slowly in the sun and there are many meditative-hypnotic stretches. There is a Debussian poise about Girard's music and it's certainly exemplified in this work. The cooling yet ecstatic sound-world of Plus haut que les oiseaux is caught between hypnotic minimalism and slowly eddying mysticism. The minimalist element is stronger here than the other three. I note that it was written some fifteen or so years earlier than those other works.

Microphone placement is close so that every detail is in the foreground. The close-up sound-picture is well chosen.

The helpful liner-notes are in French and English.

Girard's manner is serious and blends that manner with transparency and beauty.

Rob Barnett



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