Notes and Editorial Reviews
This is one very beautiful disc of chamber music with harp. The three big works are Roussel's magnificent, sweet-and-sour Sérénade for flute, harp, and string trio, followed by Debussy's Sonata for flute, viola, and harp, and concluding with Koechlin's evocative and sadly neglected Quintet (for the same forces as the Roussel). In between, the Ropartz and Ravel pieces serve as delectable "palate cleansers". The performances, by members of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, are uniformly outstanding, from the alternately spiky and lyrical Roussel to the gossamer textures of the Debussy. These players understand, particularly in the elusive latter work, the need to relax and revel in the music's sheer sonority, but never to the point that lethargy sets in.
Special praise must go to harpist Jennifer Swartz, whose rich tone blends beautifully with her partners, and who plays with an absolute minimum of "twang" and extraneous performance noise. Flutist Timothy Hutchins also does quite well, but the very close microphone placement emphasizes a slight "beat" in his upper register. Indeed, my only complaint concerns the engineering, which not only puts the players under a microscope (happily they can withstand the scrutiny) but also robs the music of some of its inherent atmosphere. No matter: the program is so attractively chosen and played that you quickly forgive this sole lapse in judgment. Highly recommended! [7/7/2006]
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com