The late Patric Standford may have written these short pieces deliberately to provoke our feedback. If so, his success is reflected in the rich range of readers' comments appearing at the foot of most of the pages.
The harp is any member of a family of stringed instruments plucked with the fingers.
The earliest harps are thought to date from 3,500 BC in Western Asia. Harps were very popular in Europe in the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods, and the instrument evolved into various different forms, such as the celtic harp, the triple harp and various kinds of lyres and zithers.
An advanced form of the instrument, the pedal harp, is used in art music as a solo instrument, for chamber music and in orchestras.
Ensemble. 'Jazzy by Bollywood Standards' - Mike Wheeler is fascinated by the music of Supriya Nagarajan and Lucy Nolan
CD Spotlight. Depth of Feeling and Maturity - Geoff Pearce is impressed by Christian Li's new album for Decca Classics. '... assured technique, passion, agility and grace ...'
CD Spotlight. A More Advanced Creed - Adolphe Adam's ballet 'Orfa', passionately recommended by Gerald Fenech. '... really arresting playing full of joy and rhythmic beauty.'
Echoes of Oblivion by Robert McCarney - The home country grown strange
Echoes of Oblivion by Robert McCarney - What's in a number?
Classical music news. Tan Dun - Decca signs the multi-award-winning composer of 'Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon'
Ensemble. Three Days at the Ravenna Summer Festival - Giuseppe Pennisi reports from 'The Italian Salzburg'
Ensemble. In Full Command - British harpist Lucy Nolan plays music by Marcel Tournier, Benjamin Britten, Sally Beamish, Paul Patterson, Tsvetlina Likova and Astor Piazzolla, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. The Magical Countertenor Voice - Giuseppe Pennisi listens to Raffaele Pé
Ensemble. A Fascinatingly Piquant Sound-world - Music for saxophone and harp, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Stimulating and Challenging - Concertos by Kalevi Aho, heard by Gerald Fenech. 'Invigorating stuff in excellent sonics and detailed annotations.'
CD Spotlight. The Depths of the Singular - John Dante Prevedini listens to Victoria Jordanova's 'Kernel & Grit'. '... musical storytelling ... can be about the creative potential of something as humble as an unwatered seed or a layer of dust.'
CD Spotlight. A Mother and Daughter Duo - Simon Farrugia finds 'El Gran Astor' superbly expressed in this new album by Duo Praxedis. 'The freshness of sound presented in this album gives a new dimension to Piazzolla's music ...'
CD Spotlight. A Very Special CD - Band music by John Philip Sousa, recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'Sensitive and engrossingly passionate performances ...'
Ensemble. Virtuoso Exuberance - Mike Wheeler listens to the Pelléas Ensemble at the Buxton Festival
CD Spotlight. Beautifully Crafted - Music by Dutch composer Hendrik Andriessen, recommended by Geoff Pearce. '... absolutely inspirational ...'
CD Spotlight. Charming and Evocative - Geoff Pearce listens to music by Alexander Rahbari. 'The performances by all involved are very fine, and I hope that this will serve to open the ears, minds and heart to music that perhaps, without this fine composer, most of us would never get to hear.'
CD Spotlight. Sensitive and Thoughtful - More Christmas music from Clifton Cathedral, heard by Keith Bramich. '... this 1997 choir has a crisper sound than its 1987 vintage, and the ensemble is neater.'
Ensemble. A Delightful Addition to Christmas - Bryn Terfel in Wales, the latest Met Stars live in concert, reviewed by Maria Nockin
CD Spotlight. Merriment and Joy - Music by Nicola Matteis, John Banister, Gottfried Finger, Matthew Locke and Johann Schop, warmly recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'Elegant and full of warmth, these dances are imaginatively orchestrated and extremely well crafted, and the playing is wonderfully affective.'
Classical music news - The English Music Festival - The Sussex-based festival plays its part in the return to music-making in the UK with an Autumn Festival on 9 and 20 October 2020
CD Spotlight. An Experimental Shake - Ona Jarmalavičiūtė listens to Shakespeare settings by Brahms, Schumann, Pesetsky and Summer. '... the experiment ... should be praised for its courage and innovation ...'
CD Spotlight. Interesting Stuff - Beethoven's 'King Stephen' and other rare works, appreciated by Gerald Fenech. 'Finely performed and recorded, this CD is a must for all serious collectors and admirers of the great man.'
CD Spotlight. Psychological Acuity - Music for harp by Boris Tishchenko impresses Gerald Fenech. '... challenging but highly rewarding music, passionately performed and sumptuously recorded.'
CD Spotlight. Highly Effective - Gerald Fenech listens to miniatures by William Mathias. '... splendid and sweetly unaffected performances ...'
Ensemble. Sheer Contrast - Prokofiev and Beethoven symphonies from the Hallé Orchestra and Mark Elder, impressing Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Lieder with Harp - Giuseppe Pennisi reports on a world tour by Diana Damrau and Xavier de Maistre
Ensemble. Joyful Combinations - Patrick Maxwell listens to Britten, McDowall, Horovitz and James Bassi, performed by Janet Lincé and The New Choir
CD Spotlight. Great Performances - Music for oboe and cor anglais by Phil Salathé, heard by Geoff Pearce. 'This composer is technically assured, and has a unique perspective and voice.'
Ensemble. A New Venture - Mike Wheeler listens to Brahms, Elgar, Haydn, Parry, Philip Moore, Purcell, Rutter, Stanford and Vivaldi from Derby Cathedral Choir
Ensemble. An Effective Combination - Music for viola and harp from Oliver Wass and Luba Tunnicliffe, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Telling Clarity - Telemann concertos impress Gerald Fenech. '... in the Berliners' hands Telemann's music sounds even more trailblazing than maybe the composer intended.'
Ensemble. Piquancy and Elegance - A recital by Claire Wickes and Tomos Xerri, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Translucent Sound - Harp music from Xavier de Maistre, appreciated by Gerald Fenech. 'Performances are lusciously executed, and both soloist and orchestra are in perfect harmony ...'
CD Spotlight. Incredible Musicianship - Ancient Scottish Highland music, recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'Although not for the faint hearted, the rewards are great ...'
CD Spotlight. Utmost Precision - Music by David Kechley impressed the late Howard Smith. 'Stimulating, unpretentious, singularly different.'
CD Spotlight. Organ transcriptions - Vocal music by Wagner and Elgar, heard by Geoff Pearce. 'Sarah Rose Taylor's voice is warm and creamy.'
CD Spotlight. Rose-coloured Sound - Canadian-born harpist Katrina Szederkényi, heard by the late Howard Smith. '... truly magnificent ...'
CD Spotlight. First Rate - Harp music from early baroque Naples, recommended by Gerald Fenech. 'Margret Köll's performances have an ethereal aura ...'
Ensemble. Wonderfully Atmospheric - Górecki, Chilcott, Thompson and Bernstein from Malcolm Goldring and the Sitwell Singers, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Elegant Precision - A recital by Charlotte de Rothschild, heard by Howard Smith. '... consistently reliable ...'
CD Spotlight. Chalk and Cheese - J S Bach sonatas for violin and harp, heard by Howard Smith. '... unconventional duo performances ...'
Sex and Absolute Power - Handel's 'Giulio Cesare in Egitto', reviewed by Giuseppe Pennisi
CD Spotlight. Knowledge and Imagination - Lavinia Meijer plays recent music for harp, and impresses Paul Sarcich. '... an exceptional player ...'
DVD Spotlight. Ho hum! - Vidor Nagy plays Bach and Paganini, reviewed by Howard Smith. '... moments of splendour.'
Ensemble. Real Spirit - A Christmas offering from Derby Choral Union, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Unique and Moving - Mahler's Fifth Symphony - a self-metamorphosis from grief to ecstatic energy, by Giuseppe Pennisi
Ensemble. Hugely Satisfying - As New Zealand arts funding strikes a sour note, Howard Smith listens to the Vector Wellington Orchestra
Ensemble. Intensely Gripping - Bizet, Richard Strauss and Vaughan Williams from Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Marvelously Incisive - Rózsa and Korngold violin concertos, recommended by Howard Smith. '... breathtaking virtuosity from soloist and orchestra alike.'
CD Spotlight. A Worthy Introduction - Song cycles and chamber music by Gareth Walters, heard by Patric Standford. '... deserves a firm place in the CD library.'
CD Spotlight. Great Poise - Petrenko conducts Shostakovich symphonies, recommended by Paul Sarcich. '... care and thoughtfulness ...'
CD Spotlight. Impressive Singing - Vocal and choral music by Cecilia McDowall, heard by Patric Standford. '... attractive, lyrical and sometimes forceful ...'
Ensemble. A Bold Piece - Jonathan Dove's 'Swanhunter', reviewed by Patric Standford
Ensemble. Alert Playing - A recital for oboe and harp, heard by Mike Wheeler
CD Spotlight. Impeccable Technique - Beethoven's middle string quartets, heard by Robert Anderson. 'The outer movements induce some grinding of teeth.'
Nicely Judged - A recital by harpist Anneleen Lenaerts impresses Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Especially Successful - Gillian Wills reports from the Australian Fesival of Chamber Music
CD Spotlight. Towering Achievement - Beethoven's late string quartets impress Robert Anderson. '... full marks to these players ...'
Ensemble. Elemental Music - Malcolm Miller listens to music-theatre works by Harrison Birtwistle
Ensemble. Student Life and Love - Puccini's 'La bohème' from Kentish Opera, enjoyed by Pippa Hare
CD Spotlight. Expressive Beauty - Chamber music by Marjan Mozetich, enjoyed by Howard Smith. '... "Hymn of Ascension" stood out for its power and cogency.'
Ensemble. A Heavenly Blend - Joshua Habermann conducts the Master Chorale of South Florida, reviewed by Lawrence Budmen
Ensemble. Highly Resourceful - Mike Wheeler listens to a new work by Richard Roddis
Ensemble. A Rich Sound - Handel's 'Samson', enjoyed by Robert Hugill
Record Box. Ample Richness - A recital for harp, reviewed by Paul Sarcich
Ensemble. Especially Dramatic - Premières by Sheriff and McCabe, reviewed by Malcolm Miller
Record Box. An Enjoyable Exposition - Music by Teresa LeVelle, reviewed by Patric Standford
Ensemble. Sunshine and Stars - The Australian Festival of Chamber Music 2006 continues, and Malcolm Tattersall sends a second report
Ensemble. Playful rapport - A recital by Harriet Adie and Jessica Burroughs, reviewed by Mike Wheeler
Record box. Names and prayers - Music by Victoria Jordanova, reviewed by Patric Standford
CD Spotlight. Subjective nationalism - Music by Alberto Ginastera, explored by Rex Harley. '... stunningly played and gloriously recorded.'
Record box - No piano on that one. Basil Ramsey overhears musicians getting together
Record Box - The born and stillborn - Harping on, with Basil Ramsey