Harp Voyage: A Musical Journey

0 of 5 stars

López-Chavarri y Marco
Cuentos y Fantasías – El Viejo Castillo Moro [arr. Grandjany]
Imprompu-Caprice, Op.9
A Farewell to St. Petersburg – The Lark [arr. Erdely]
Sonata in C minor [trans. Salzedo]
Prelude, Fugue and Allegro, BWV998 – Allegro [arr. Rodríguez Ríos]
Mateo Albéniz
Sonata in D [arr. McLaughlin]
Fantasie, Op.35
Dávila Barreto
Medito Sobre un Vielo Gris (for Harp and CD)
Hérnández Marín
Campanitas de Cristal [arr. Vidal & Rodríguez Ríos]

Lizary Rodríguez Ríos (harp)

Recording date(s) and venue(s) not advised

Reviewed by: William Yeoman

Reviewed: March 2007
[No catalogue number]
Duration: 59 minutes

The harp is one of the most exquisite instruments ever invented, and this is an exquisite recording.

Prize-winning harpist Lizary Rodríguez Ríos studied at the Puerto Rico Conservatory, as well as privately with María Rosa Vidal, before continuing her studies with both Carrol McLaughlin at the University of Arizona and María Rosa Calvo-Manzano at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Madrid. In addition to her solo work, Lazary has performed and recorded with the Grammy-nominated ensemble, HarpFusion.

“Harp Voyage” takes us on a musical journey thought six countries that Lizary has visited and which for her evoke many happy memories. First to Spain, where Lizary captures the malagueña and cante jondo elements of Calvo-Manzano’s Andalucía with great subtlety (though the ‘deep song’ is perhaps too delicately rendered). López-Chavarri y Marco’s El Viejo Castillo Moro (originally for piano), which recalls Albéniz’s Navarra, is full of colour and occasion.

Two French works then bracket Glinka’s song The Lark: Pierné’s Fauré-esque Imprompu-Caprice and Tournier’s Debussian Féerie. All are witness to Lizary’s feeling for light and shade, allowing the sometimes contradictory moods in each piece to be reconciled while still admitting of necessary tension.

Four baroque and classical works then take us to Italy, Spain and Germany. Pescetti’s three-movement Harpsichord Sonata in C minor sits well enough on the harp, though the Andantino expressivo possibly outstays its welcome. The first movement’s similarity to Bach’s A minor Two-Part Invention is striking, and it is to that composer that Lizary next turns with the Prelude from BWV998, originally for lute or keyboard but nowadays a staple of the classical guitarist’s repertoire. Lizary’s playing here leaves me eager to hear the whole work on the harp. The following one-movement keyboard sonata by Mateo Albéniz is also a favourite with guitarists; it too receives a wonderfully nuanced performance – though more prominence in the ‘fanfare’ motif would have been welcome. Spohr’s Fantasie, written for his harp-virtuoso wife Dorette, doesn’t perhaps live up to its slow, dramatic introduction in purely musical terms, but Lizary makes a very strong case for its latent potential.

Puerto Rican composers Wanda Cècile Dávila Barreto (born 1983) and Rafael Hernández Marín bring the musical journey to an end in starkly contrasting ways. The former’s Medito Sobre un Vielo Gris, composed while attending the composition summer school ‘Magistralia I+C’ in Gijón (Spain), is atmospheric and soothing; the latter’s song Campanitas de Cristal is full of delightful energy. As is Lizary’s playing.

The recorded sound is ideal; Lizary has also provided notes on each work in the programme. This is a disc not only for lovers of the harp, but for anyone wanting a relaxing listening experience that is also of the highest artistic merit.

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