Collection: Scintillation

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Debussy,Gershwin,Grandjany,Ravel,Salzedo
LABELS: Telarc
WORKS: Music by Ravel, Debussy, Salzedo, Grandjany & Gershwin
PERFORMER: Yolanda Kondonassis (harp); Instrumental Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: CD-80361 DDD

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Scintillation is the name of a generally unremarkable work by the 19th-century harpist Carlos Salzedo, and which is included in this recital disc by the young American harpist, Yolanda Kondonassis. Scintillating, however, this disc is not; rather there is an air of reticence and restraint.

The harp is scarcely endowed with classical repertoire of particular musical significance, but two of its finest works, Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro and Debussy’s Danses sacrée et profane, for harp and instrumental group are presented here, alas, in lacklustre performances. The lush opening to the Ravel is too langourous; the sounds of the flute and the clarinet are ill-matched, the energy is too low. Similarly, the Debussy fails to ignite with any sense of musical passion.

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The only other ‘legitimate’ work for solo harp on this disc is a set of mildly charming variations on a theme of Haydn by the French harpist Marcel Grandjany. Arrangements by Kondonassis of piano works by Debussy, Ravel and Gershwin serve to underline the limitations of the instrument, showing how undamped notes will obscure and undermine the harmonies and colours associated with the keyboard versions. But Kondonassis can produce rich, sonorous sounds and impeccably even runs and glissandi from her (unattributed) instrument; only the magic is missing. Annette Moreau