This adventurous program features Yolanda Kondonassis in seven surprisingly substantial works for harp by American composers. There’s remarkably little fluff; even the lightest pieces here—John Williams’ the Lanes of Limerick, Stephen Paulus’ Berceuse, and Norman Dello Joio’s Bagatelles—have a degree of substance that we don’t always expect in repertoire for this particular instrument. Hannah Lash’s Stalk, whatever that’s supposed to mean, is alternately spiky and lyrical–quite entertaining. John Cage’s In a Landscape is hypnotic and proto-minimalist, with an Eastern flavor emerging now and again. Kondonassis gives her harp an appropriately austere twang here.
The major work on theRead more disc is Lowell Liebermann’s Music for Harp. At almost 18 minutes, this is a major addition to the repertoire for the instrument, and it’s an impressively sustained piece full of distinctive ideas. That leaves us with Bariolage, by Elliott Carter. “Bariolage” means (on the violin at least) the rapid alternation of a single note with other notes around it. The technique was often used by Haydn to repeat the same note on different strings, with humorous results. Now the harp is, by its very nature, a tonal instrument, and humor never was Carter’s strong suit. Nevertheless, and despite Carter’s best efforts to be his usual self, the instrument defeats him–with the result that the piece is quite enjoyable.
Kondonassis is an amazing harpist with perfect technique and a pure, limpid tone that consistently seduces the ear. She handles the wildest flights of contemporary virtuosity with ease. Make no mistake, this is difficult music, not just for the hands, but for the feet as well. Her pedal shifting is always smooth and silent, and believe me there’s a lot of it. Azica’s sonics capture the harp at the ideal distance to offer maximum warmth as well as clarity. This is an absolutely beautiful disc full of music that’s well worth getting to know. It will surprise you.
In a Landscapeby John Cage Performer:
Yolanda Kondonassis (Harp)
Period: 20th Century Written: 1948; USA
Bariolageby Elliott Carter Performer:
Yolanda Kondonassis (Harp)
Period: 20th Century Written: 1992
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
welcome a new compositional talentSeptember 21, 2013By M. Baranchik (Chicago, IL)See All My Reviews"The sound and performances are universally excellent as one would expect from an artist of Ms. Kondonassis talent. Personally, I enjoy this most for introducing me to the work of Hannah Lash, a composer who also studied harp with Ms. Kondonassis. If this piece is any indication, hers is a voice I look forward to hearing often in the future."Report Abuse
Gorgeous harp music written by contemporary compoJuly 29, 2013By Warren Harris See All My Reviews"If you are a harp lover, then you probably know who Yolanda Kondonassis is and for those that dont, you are in for a treat as she is a masterful musician. This disc consists of nine works for harp by contemporary composers. But not to worry, this is not a collection of dissonant atonal pieces. Rather, it is a collection of evocative works brought to life in a very special way. The first piece, film composer John Williams The Lanes of Limerick from the score to Angelas Ashes is an Irish flavored work that makes you just sit back and gape. Stalk by Hannah Lash, a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music in harp performance, offers us a complex work that speaks (per the composer in the informative liner notes) to being trapped in a garden full of beautiful flowers in nightmare (you just have to hear it to understand). Lowell Liebermann offers us Music for Harp, Op. 116 in which the abilities of the harp are explored in numerous interesting ways. Stephan Paulus Berceuse is a single movement for solo harp of a work for Chamber Orchestra and features beautiful fluid passages of the type only possible on the harp. Batelles from Norman Dello Joio consists of 3 works that are somewhat soul-searching, although the second one is fairly spritely. In a Landscape is a John Cage work, and it is just gorgeous. This one pleasantly surprised me. Finally we have Elliott Carters Bariolage -- this is difficult to describe, parts of it seeming disjointed except that they are not, intermixed with somewhat haunting passages. Not my favorite work on the disc, but I am strangely glad that it is here. The recording quality is excellent, and I cant say enough about Ms. Kondonassis technique and music making ability. If you like harp music, then this CD is worth looking at. Strongly recommended."Report Abuse