Mozart, Donizetti, Naumann, Ršllig, Thomas Bloch, Beethoven, Holt Sombach, Schulz, Reichardt, Apell

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Apell,Beethoven,Donizetti,Holt Sombach,Mozart,Naumann,Reichardt,Röllig,Schulz,Thomas Bloch
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: Glass Harmonica
WORKS: Works
PERFORMER: Thomas Bloch (glass harmonica), etc
CATALOGUE NO: 8.555295
The glass harmonica has glass bowls arranged horizontally and rotated by a rod connected to a pedal. The eerily pure and penetrating sound, less clinical than a sine wave and rich in silvery harmonics, is produced by the fingers on the rims, and, it’s said, drove several players mad. The instrument’s popularity lasted less than a century, from the middle of the 18th, so most of the music here is by contemporaries of Mozart. Mozart’s own Quintet with flute, oboe, viola and cello, tests the limitations of the glass harmonica player’s agility in its concerto-like second movement, and Thomas Bloch comes out of it gracefully. Less graceful is the famous Mad Scene from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, usually heard with a flute instead of the musical glasses. The fault here lies with the plodding substitution of a boxily recorded piano for the orchestra, and although Montserrat Sanrom is accurate, her coloratura soprano is a bit thin and squawky. The two male sopranos in Apell’s brief and charming cantata sound very plausible, and one of them reappears, multi-tracked and doubling as a baritone, in Bloch’s own maudlin Sancta Maria, larded with electronic effects to make it other-worldly. Definitely one for Radio 3’s Late Junction. Adrian Jack