When the young Archduchess of Austria, Marie-Antoinette, arrived at the French court in 1770, amongst her luggage was a harp. Contrary to the instrument's heralded decline, the harp was about to enjoy an unprecedented popularity and to inspire a rich and prolific repertoire, quite distinct from the concertos being composed for the keyboard. Xavier de Maistre and Les Arts Florissants take us on a voyage of discovery through these magnificent compositions, from the lesser known Concerto for Harp and Orchestra No 5 by Jean-Baptiste Krumpholtz (1747-1790) to Joseph Haydn's La Reine Symphony No 83, bringing them to life using period instruments in a programme that also includes Christoph Willibald Gluck's Dance of the Blessed Spirits and the Harp Concerto No 1 by Johann David Hermann (circa 1760-1846), which is as accomplished as it is captivating.
Listen — Johann David Hermann: Rondo
(Concerto for Harp and Orchestra No 1 Op 9)
(HAF 8932276 track 9, 0:00-0:59) ℗ 2016 harmonia mundi musique sas :
De Maistre comments:
Ever since the start of my career, I have struggled against the cliché that reduces the harp to an instrument for aristocratic salons, reserved for young ladies of good family ... For the very first time of my career, I decided to play a harp of the late eighteenth century, meticulously restored by a specialized luthier.
At times mystical, at others immensely relaxing and uplifting, this is music coming down from above that soothes the soul and calms the mind. William Christie and his incomparable Arts Florissants are second to none in this repertoire, and their marvellous support of the soloist is as arresting and enchanting as the sound of the harp itself.
Listen — Jean-Baptiste Krumpholtz: Ô ma tendre musette
(Concerto for harp and orchestra No 5 Op 7)
(HAF 8932276 track 2, 3:51-4:36) ℗ 2016 harmonia mundi musique sas :
This is an entrancing programme, warmly performed, sumptuously recorded and brilliantly annotated, which I strongly recommend, especially to those who at the moment are experiencing some kind of adversity and feel caught in a net of despondency.
Copyright © 2 November 2023