WORKS: Glière: Harp Concerto; Debussy: Danses pour harpe chromatique; Mozart: Concerto for Flute, Harp and Orchestra
PERFORMER: Claire Jones (harp); William Bennett (flute); English Chamber Orchestra/ Paul Watkins
CATALOGUE NO: SIGCD 216
Anyone who adores the music of the Russian Mighty Handful (most especially Balakirev) or Glazunov should find Glière’s Harp Concerto especially appealing. Cast in three movements, highlighted by an enchanting central theme and variations, it may not be the most instantly memorable of Romantic concertos, although it is expertly written.
Claire Jones captures its elusive atmosphere to perfection, playing with a beguiling lyricism and subtle range of hues and colours. In concertos of the late-Romantic period it is tempting to adopt a heroic mode of expression, but Jones proves the soul of discretion, weaving in and out of the orchestral tapestry with a sensitivity and panache that enchants the senses.
In a perfect world it would have been nice to have included another under-recorded work such as Rodrigo’s delightful Concierto serenata or the Villa-Lobos or Rota concertos, but at least we can look forward to those possibilities in the future.
As it is, Jones could hardly have wished for more graceful and sympathetic partners in the Mozart than William Bennett, the English Chamber Orchestra and Paul Watkins, who radiate Classical elegance and sparkle throughout. Jones plays with a warmth, charm and relaxed ease ideal for winter evening listening. Mozart apparently loathed both the flute and harp, but after hearing this performance you would never know it.
Finest of all are the two Debussy pieces, which Jones floats aloft on warm musical breezes, relishing their rippling iridescence with alluring subtlety. Technical wizards John West and Mike Hatch provide exemplary, atmospheric sound.