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Martin-Pierre DALVIMARE (1772-1839)
Sonata in G Minor, Op.2 No 2 [14.56]
Sonata in E Flat Major, Op.9 No 3 [20.39]
Sonata in F Minor, Op.18 No 3 [22.53]
Paola Perrucci (harp)
rec. R.T.S.I. in Auditorio Stelio Molo, Lugano, Switzerland, 2017 DYNAMIC CDS7791 [58:44]
Dalvimare is a significant figure in the development of music for harp, even if, for most lovers of music, he is not well-known. The lack of universal recognition does not imply anything second-rate, as these world premiere recordings amply – and beautifully - demonstrate.
Dalvimare’s contribution straddles the period of the French Revolution (prudently, he changed his name from the more aristocratic ‘d’Alvimare’) and the rise and fall of Napoleon, and it is possible to hear in his music the influences of his contemporaries Mozart, Beethoven and – I think especially – Haydn. His instinct is strongly melodic. Important also is the influence of technical advances for the harp. The Opus 18 sonata, recorded here, requires an instrument tuned in A flat and looks forward to the double action harp, first patented in 1811. The music is louder than in the first two sonatas, again a feature of the later harp.
The composer does not shy away from technically complex works – he was a considerable practitioner. In 1780 at seven years old, he performed at Versailles for Marie Antoinette, though he seems to have given up public performance around the age of fifteen, working with his father, who was a tax collector in the Dreux district. At the time of the Revolution, Dalvimare was a member of the Royal Guard and managed to escape the destruction of the Tuileries. Once things had calmed he resumed a successful musical career as harpist for the Paris Opéra (1800-1812) and teacher (his pupils included the Empress Josephine). Compositions were all for the harp, either as solo instrument or in combination, apart from two comic operas, Églé from 1788, and Le marriage par imprudence from 1809. Critical opinion seems to have agreed that he should have stuck to the harp.
These three sonatas are gorgeous, and perfect late night listening. The Opus 18 is the most substantial and technically complex, but this takes nothing away from the pleasure of the other two. Boldness of conception is evident in all three sonatas here. Listen, for instance, to the Vivace Agitato of the Op.2 G minor sonata, where technical complexity and virtuosity contribute to, and do not detract from, the elegant and beautiful music. Perhaps most immediately striking are the slow movements, notably the extensive and expressive Adagio of the Op.9 Sonata in E Flat Major. Dalvimare moves beyond the merely classical – Romantic influence is evident in the emotional intensity and moments of melancholy.
Paola Perrucci was unknown to me, and I am glad to have discovered in this recording her quite extraordinary talent. I cannot imagine finer performances than these, as she reveals such subtlety and sensitivity in playing with perfectly judged sense of momentum and rhythmic security. Poetry is allied to a formidable technique.
Recording quality is very fine, with everything both clear and warm. Perfect late night listening, but much more than that.
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