Opéra Fantasy

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COMPOSERS: Carmen,Ceysson,Parish-Alvars,Spohr,Walter-Kühne,Zabel
ALBUM TITLE: Opéra Fantasy
WORKS: Ceysson: Paraphrase on Carmen; Damase: Fantasy on Tales of Hoffman; Spohr: Variations on ‘Je suis encore dans mon printemps’, etc
PERFORMER: Emmanuel Ceysson (harp)


As well as his burgeoning solo career, Emmanuel Ceysson is principal harpist of the Paris Opéra, which positions him well to do justice to this programme of operatic transcriptions.

Alexandre Dratwicki’s liner notes describe the various types that flourished in the 19th century, from the simpler dance-based quadrilles and informal potpourri, to the more ambitious, free-form fantasy and the Lisztian paraphrase.

It’s on these last two forms that Ceysson concentrates his virtuoso artistry here, following examples set by great harpist predecessors, such as Elias Parish-Alvars’s exploration of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, and Albert Zabel’s selection from Gounod’s Faust. Ceysson includes recent recreations of the genre, too, with contemporary French composer Jean-Michel Damase’s take on Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann, and his own 12-minute survey ofBizet’s Carmen; often at its best when he departs most from the score.

His playing is immaculate, brilliant in its attack and subtle in its range of effects and colouring, with the translucent acoustic allowing his smallest gestures to make their mark.


George Hall