Have any of you done these two pieces, and could tell me which you
liked more, and which you thought was more difficult? Which sounds
I’ve done both of them, and I agree that the Handel is less difficult. Whether or not either one of those pieces is ‘impressive’ depends on how you play it; they both can be. I liked them both a lot. The Handel was the first harp concerto I played, so it’s special to me, but I really fell in love with the Danses when I was learning them — they are just amazing. My advice is to learn both of them, because they’re classics.
I agree with the other comments that you should learn both, however I prefer the Debussy. I have a harder time performing Baroque music, so I like the flexibility the more Romantic Debussy allows me. It’s also a little shorter and the movements flow together, so its not as daunting as playing all 3 movements of the Handel.
Still, these are both the biggest standards of the harp repertoire, frequently required for auditions, so eventually you will need to learn both!
I have to desagree with you Kim about the flexible character of the Debussy’s Danses. As an impressionist all of its dinamics and rhythms are strickly written as they should sound. I am saying it because there is this common mistake musicians commit on playing Debussy as if he was a romantic composer.
Both of these peices are quite difficult- I my self learned the Salzedo version of Handel, which is supposedly more difficult than other arrangements. As far as difficulty goes, Handel wins technique and Debussy wins music difficulty. I myself, prefer the Handel Concerto, especially the 1st and 2nd movement. But, the Debussy isn’t lousy- it’s a very well thought out peice- i just prefer Handel. I hope this helps! Best of luck.
Hello! I think Debussy is technically way more difficult than Handel, though I don’t know the Salzedo version. I think the challenge in Handel is lying in the second movement. You really have to make something of the skeleton and you should get the original version, so you can make your own thrills and second melody, I’ve played it yesterday with orchestra, it still is the most difficult movement but also the most fun to play, because you can improvise a little bit. You should listen to the version of Andrew Lawrence King on a Welsh triple harp, it’s on the cd “The Italian concerto” on Deutsche Harmonia Mundi. It’s the best version I have.
Musically, Debussy is very difficult too. There are so many ways to interpret the first line! You really have to put a meaning to the dots and other signs above the notes and put it in the context. I’m studying it now, it’s really heaven! My teacher Ernestine Stoop has a magnificent recording. She has studied with Pierre Jamet, who was an authority on the area of Debussy.
Both concertos sound impressive. Many people know the theme of Handel, but I think Debussy is more magic.
I have played both the Handel and the Debussy and find there are pros and cons to both. The Handel is less technically challenging (if you get the one edited by Lucile Lawrence, not Carlos Salzado) but you do have to watch out for the trills in the second movement. Those can be rather tricky on timing. The Handel can also get a little boring after playing it for a while but its advantage over the Debussy is that it can be played solo or with an orchestra. The Debussy has to be played with an orchestra and therefore is more limiting as to where it may be performed. Both pieces, though, are amazing and impressive if played properly. One thing I might suggest if you do the Lucile Lawrence edition of the Handel is that you get different cadenzas for the movements. Her’s are good but they are rather plain and short and are not as showy as some might prefer.
The reason the cadenza in Lucile Lawrence’s edition is short and not showy, is because she determined that the practice of the time was to make a simple expository statement, rather than a suspenseful climactic one. I have composed my own cadenza that is just a little longer and I think satisfies both desires. I like to think of it as being in the style of about 1790.
I want to say about Andrew Lawrence-King that I kind of resent an organist who teaches himself to “play” the harp so he can cash in on recordings as a “period instrument” player. I heard him in concert as well as a recording and it was the ugliest playing I have ever heard. He could have at least paid some harpist for lessons so he would have contributed to our community, and learned something about how the instrument likes to be played. He may know a lot about finding repertoire, but I won’t consider him a real harpist. Osian Ellis may have been self-taught, but he was pretty good and was part of our world. I have met several musicians over the years who thought we made lots of money and barely learned how to play so they could take our gigs. And they did. Not behavior I can respect.
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