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In the Light of Ravel
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Introduction et Allegro [10.42]
Robert GROSLOT (b.1951)
Poème Secret [14.36]
John METCALF (b.1946)
Septet [13.30]
Sergiu NATRA (b.1924)
Pour Nicanor [13.22]
Michael LYSIGHT (b.1958)
A Tribute to Philip K. Dick [6.31]
Rachel Talitman (harp)
Marcus Fregnani-Martins (flute)
Jean-Marc Fessard (clarinet)
Daniel Rubenstein (violin)
Laurent Houque (violin)
Raphael Aubry (viola)
Clément Holvoet (viola)
Hélène Dautry (cello)
Johannes Burghoff (cello)
Akhtamar Quartet
No recording details provided
HARP & CO. CD5050-39 [58.41]

Is there a lovelier instrument than the harp? Its hold on humanity, in the various forms of the instrument over the last several thousands of years, has been so immensely powerful. This CD will give immense joy, and is important anyway, because, apart from the Ravel, each piece is a world premiere recording, of valuable and sometimes (as in the Metcalf) quite entrancing ideas.

The Ravel is an interesting and charming work. Some parts seem to occupy similar territory to Vaughan Williams, which is unsurprising given that Vaughan Williams chose to study with him. The piece has been much recorded, but, for me, this performance is there with the best of them. My benchmark is the famous Decca recording with the Melos Ensemble, coupled with works by Franck and Debussy. The new recording is just a shade more meditative but takes its place alongside the earlier one. Rachel Talitman loses nothing by comparison with Osian Ellis.

Robert Groslot’s piece – for 7 instruments (harp, flute, clarinet and string quartet) - is an interesting work, with quicksilver changes in mood, sometimes quite dark, but with moments of attack. I enjoyed it, and look forward to exploring it further. John Metcalf’s Septet was written to honour the parents of the man who had commissioned the work – and parents in general. It is a piece of three connected movements (Scherzo: Calmo: Largamente). I found it instantly appealing – a lovely work, lovingly performed. Sergiu Natra’s Pour Nicanor was commissioned by the great harpist, Nicanor Zabaleta. The piece is in three movements, and recognisably modern but with great feeling for melodic lines. A special joy is the blend of the woodwinds with string sounds as well as the sensitivity to different moods. The Lysight is a worthwhile completion of the disc, with varied moods leading to a serene conclusion.

The accompanying booklet is informative about the music though not about the performers. Recordings – wherever they were made – are clear and committed.

An outstanding release.

Michael Wilkinson



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