Repertoire for recitals

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    unknown-user on #144754

    The whole point is that it is not really good to play candyfloss if you want to taken at all seriously. Patterson’s piece is not bad, but didn’t strike me as great. I’ll give it another look. There’s good music from Dutch composers. The Ibert Scherzetto is a charming piece, but have a look at the first of his six pieces as well. I have a small problem with the Berio, which is that reading the score does not really tell you how to play it. A really curious piece is by Sylvano Bussotti, I think it is called Fragmentations. It has a very large, very colorful graphic score that used to hang on the wall in my first apartment. I do wish someone would commission a solo piece by George Crumb.
    In the old days, when playing a program of twelve pieces, they would arrange them in groups of three, with two easier pieces, then a moderately difficult piece. It seems worth a try. Thank you Julianne for your thoughtful reply.

    Anton Sie on #144755


    As I’m a Dutch harpist, I’m quite interested which Dutch pieces you like, Saul! My teacher Ernestine Stoop has premiered quite many new Dutch pieces.
    I believe that one can play one or two “candyfloss” pieces, as the harp sounds well. For example, I play often one piece from Reni? on my recitals (L?gende, Ballade Fantastique, Contemplation – which is a perfect encore by the way -). Furthermore, I like the C.Ph.E. Bach Solo f?r die Harfe very much, and Spohr. Of all composing harpists, I like Tournier best, because his pieces are very colourful.
    I don’t have problems playing pieces written for the piano, as long as the harp sound does right to the piece. For example, I think Mozart Sonate facile sounds very well on the harp. And although I adore Schubert and Beethoven very much, I don’t think their music suits harp.
    I also try to include a contemporary piece in a recital, but my problem is that I don’t know that many contemporary pieces yet, and it always takes me so much time to learn the notes! For example, I think Carter’s Bariolage is much, much harder to learn than a virtuoso piece from Reni?.

    But most important of all ist the way you play it: I think that when the audience think that the piece is good, that you have played well! For example, Gwyneth Wentink has made big impression on me when she played “La danse des sylphes” from Godefroid, which belongs to the category “Candyfloss”.

    By the way, I’m not so fond of Roussel’s Impromptu and Tailleferre’s Sonata, I can’t say exactly why…

    unknown-user on #144756

    I am lately quite taken with the expressive possibilities of Flothuis’ Tombeau de Orphee, and I love music by Henk Badings, especially his Ballade for Flute and Harp, and the Cavatina; and the Notturno by Lex Van Delden.
    As for the harpist’s pieces you mentioned, I have outgrown any interest in them. Such pieces are more fascinating to harpists because of their intricacies and because they are by our colleagues. I have found that general, informed audiences and other sophisticated musicians such as pianists do not like them. Elizabeth Volpe had a good comment on their over-reliance on repetitive figures. But I think it has also something to do with a kind of gloomy mood they all seem under the spell of. Such dark harmonies. Thank you for your answer.

    Susan Allen on #144757

    Have you checked out Todd Brief’s “Moments” for solo harp?

    unknown-user on #144758

    If I remember correctly, I have looked at the Brief and the Lomon. I
    believe I was not favorably impressed. I was particularly displeased
    with Elliott Carter’s Bariolage, or perhaps we could call it
    Bar-Triage. It begins with some germs of ideas that actually have some
    music in them, and he doesn’t develop them, it is very poorly notated,
    and has little or no value, unfortunately, as he is a big name for some
    reason. I would so much rather have a solo piece from George Crumb. Why
    don’t you commission him? At least his music is compelling, expressive,
    poetic, colorful and of some significance. He is getting older and
    there won’t be much time left. He has shown in so many pieces that he
    can write for harp with some sensitivity. I would think you would be
    able to get funding for such a project, if anyone can. I looked at a
    70s contemporary piece today, complete with atonal, wide intervals and
    proportional notation, and I immediately noticed the complete lack of
    rhythm. That might have made it interesting. Josef Tal’s Intrada might
    be considered atonal and twelve-tone-ish by some, but it is very
    rhythmic, and thus much more enjoyable to the audience and performer.

    unknown-user on #144759

    BY the way, I did some work on the Glanville-Hicks Sonata and
    discovered that, played the “right way” I really enjoy it. While it is
    notated in 5/4, it mostly works out to be in 3/4, at least by internal
    phrasing, and that helped make it fall into place, along with omitting
    some of Zabaleta’s mufflings and changing a couple of notes so they
    would make sense. I hope to master it and perform it eventually. I
    think it is an easy piece to misunderstand.

    As for the Spohr Variations, delightful as they may sometimes be, I
    have no desire to break my thumbs in order to play them. Who has the
    stretch to play those right hand patterns with a span of more than a
    tenth? Besides Lynne
    Aspnes, anyway.

    unknown-user on #144760

    This is certainly a long thread and very interesting. I only want to mention I attended a solo harp recital by a winner of a major competition. Out of the 12 works on the program, 10 were transcriptions. After the initial amazement over the incredible technique proving this person could play ANYTHING from the piano on the harp, suddenly in the middle of the first half I realized I really wasn’t enjoying the music very much. Which is why I attend recitals, not to marvel over technique. After the third Chopin transcription I decided if I wanted to attend a piano recital, I would have gone to a piano recital. I left at intermission because the remainder of the program was all transcriptions. I am not against transcriptions, but all things in moderation. And definitely, the transcription needs to at least sound as good as it does on the original instrument. Otherwise, you do the composer an injustice.

    Anonymous on #144761

    (First of all, please excuse my lack of diacritical marks since it appears they don’t come through very well.)

    I think the comment above by Julieanne Rabens really sums it up–“The bottom line for choosing recital repertoire is to find pieces that affect you deeply, and that you know you can communicate with expressive power.”

    I would, however, add that the music has to be interesting.

    unknown-user on #144762

    Perhaps unfortunately, I feel the need to respond to the last post.
    When I started as a harpist, I listened to all the harp music
    available, which was mostly French romantic-period music, especially
    recordings by Susann McDonald. I listened to Renie, Tournier,
    Godefroid, Hasselmans, and so on. I heard no pieces more often than
    Grandjany’s Le Bon Petit Roi de Yvetot and Children’s Hour Suite.

    There were little or no recordings of Salzedo’s music available, and
    what I heard of his own playing was not that seductive. The recording
    that convinced me the harp was worthwhile was Annie Challan’s recording
    of Debussy, Ravel, Pierne and Faure. My interest in Salzedo developed
    gradually, and it was the depth and beauty of his compositions that won
    me over. To think that I am prejudiced is to not know me at all. Liszt
    composed some great music and a lot of shallow music. I enjoy some of
    Liszt’s showy music, and some of it is too empty to tolerate. I cannot
    stand Parish-Alvars’s music because it is all empty. Or at least every
    performance I have heard has been empty. His music sounds more like
    inflated Stephen Foster than anything else. I would rather hear Bochsa.
    His expansion of harp technique is not enough to make his music
    interesting, unlike Spohr. My feeling has nothing to do whatsoever with
    my liking Salzedo’s music. To compare his music to Parish-Alvars is
    true on the surface, in that they were both performer-composers with a
    lot of technique, but Salzedo’s music does indeed have depth and
    significance, to varying degrees like any composer, whether its modern
    styling is to your taste or not. His Sonata for Harp and Piano is a
    masterpiece, along with his Trois Poemes de Mallarme, Pentacle, Five
    Poetical Studies and other works not so often played. Scintillation
    varies greatly depending on the performer. I find lots of depth in it,
    and think it is as fine as Saint-Saens’s fantaisies. But I have heard
    mediocre, and empty performances of it as well. Overexposure can
    certainly detract from the pleasure in a piece, so we do all need to
    explore our repertoire and program thoughtfully as Sam Milligan
    suggests. What is it some music is so full of, and other music so
    lacking in? Inspiration? Genius? Talent? Originality? Soul? Musicality?
    I think the last is the most significant. Just because someone composes
    music, does not mean they are musical. Carter, Boulez, Berio are icons
    of contemporary music, but Berio is the only one I find at all musical.
    So what is musical? Using more than just one’s head; having spirit,
    heart and soul in your music, instinct and intuition, not just
    intellect alone.

    HBrock25 on #144763

    What about Faure ” Une Chatelaine En sa Tour”? It is a little bit awkaward but sounds beautiful.
    There are also R. Gliere Impromptu(the full begining acords version, not D. Owens) and V. Kikta Sonata no.2 ( in one movement so called Bylina scale) that I find interesting.
    M. Tournier ” Danse de moujik” ( from ” Images”) aa well.

    Saul Davis Zlatkovski on #144764

    I have not seen another edition of Gliere’s Impromptu, it is not a very substantial piece, but effective in the right place on a program if you don’t make too much of it.

    Danse du Moujik is not terribly interesting music, and I don’t find Tournier’s Images to be very challenging, good student material, or filler on a program.

    Faure’s Une Chatelaine en sa tour is a small masterpiece. We are so lucky to have it in our repertoire. It is difficult, but not awkward with my fingering and pedaling, just challenging.

    Harpists should measure the innate value of pieces, and Une Chatelaine is a good one to use as an example of the best value.

    eliza-morrison on #144765

    What an interesting idea for a discussion!
    I have not read every comment

    eliza-morrison on #144766

    Perhaps Boston harpist Virginia Crumb could suggest to George Crumb that he compose a solo harp piece; I believe she is his niece!

    eliza-morrison on #144767


    Elizabeth Volpé Bligh on #144768

    Marjan Mozetich wrote Songs of Nymphs for Erica Goodman and it has since become very popular among harpists in Canada. It is absolutely gorgeous.

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