Metcalf, Pärt, Glass
Hooray for a harp recording which breaks out of the mould of the limited range of familiar harp repertoire! Harpist Elinor Bennett and Lontano Records have compiled here an imaginative selection of both original pieces and transcriptions of contemporary music made by Bennett herself. The harp’s repertoire is often criticised because the instrument lends itself to sonorous musical effects, often resulting in a lack of musical substance. Nevertheless, perhaps the most attractive pieces on the recording are the original works by 20th-century composers John Metcalf, Grace Williams and Jeffrey Lewis, which indulge the textures and resonance of the instrument, while the post-modern and minimalist transcriptions work largely because their spare textures focus on the quality of the sound. Bennett’s cool and dispassionate control and clear articulation, together with a halo around the sounds created by the recording, enhance this. The two transcriptions each of Arvo Pärt and Philip Glass, with their reconstructed tonality, flank two original 400-year-old pre-tonal pieces by Robert ap Huw and inhabit a remarkably similar sound world. New Age harp music and minimalist fans especially would find interest in this recording.