COMPOSERS: Debussy,Faure,Grandjany & Damase,Hasselmans,Pierne,Ravel,Tournier
LABELS: Alison Nicholls
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Alison Nicholls
PERFORMER: Alison Nicholls (harp)
CATALOGUE NO: ARN 001 (distr. www.alisonnicholls.com)
This collection of beautiful French harp repertoire from the latter part of the 19th century to the first part of the 20th century is mostly impressionist in style with a wide colouristic palette from both the composers and performer. In Marcel Tournier’s Au matin there are lovely silvery upper registers, while Alphonse Hasselmans gives us washes of harmonic colour in his Follets. Both harpist composers, they had an inherent grasp of the tonal possibilities of the instrument, although one should not look to this recording for profound musical statements and forms; this is a jewel box of mostly miniature treasures, even from the more renowned composers featured such as Ravel, Debussy and Fauré, the pieces by the former two being transcriptions from piano music. Perhaps the Ravel Menuet, as a result, is the least successful performance here in terms of colour because one misses the piano’s halo around the sound. Tournier’s mastery of harp colour is revealed in the performance full of energy of ‘La danse du Moujik’ and ‘La volière magique’ with its evanescently magical writing and performance. As Nicholls describes one of the pieces in her booklet notes, this is luxuriant harp sound ‘piling layers of cream upon cream’.