Ten Landmark recordings

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    John McK

    So if you had to educate a total neophyte about harp music, what ten CD’s would you use? Not “what is my favorite” but more “what is a landmark recording?”


    Hi John,

    Hmmm, I’m not sure if I’m clever enough to list “landmark” recordings – but I can list recordings for you that friends and students often borrow from me, and that show a range of playing at a high level and a good sample of the repertoire. (and sorry, most are favourites!).

    Of Yolanda Kondannassis’ recordings – “Scintillation” is a great one, as it has a range of chamber and solo works and impeccible playing. Also by Yolanda, her “Sky Music” for


    John- I’m not sure what you mean by a landmark recording. There are certain recordings that I consider the definitive recordings of specific pieces. There are certain players that I feel are the best at a certain type of repertoire. But all of that of course is subjective, and someone else might take strong issue with my choices.


    Well, I’d certainly love to hear what you consider definitive recordings of specific pieces! And if people strongly disagree, then they can list the ones that they think are definitive and then John would have oodles to choose from!


    At the top of my list would be Lily Laskine playing the Pierne Concertstuck. Zabaleta playing the two Divertissements of Caplet. Suzanne McDonald playing the big Renie pieces as well as the Liszt/Renie Nightingale. Naoko Yoshino playing the Debussy first and second Arabesques as well as Salzedo’s Variations in the Old Style. I don’t pretend to know every recording out there, but these are just a few that come immediately to mind.


    Most of my landmark recordings are on vinyl and not cds. The standouts are by Carlos Salzedo, Heidi Lehwalder, Costello, Otis, Wong, and of course, Zabaleta.

    Kathleen Clark

    What fun. Okay, here are five classical pedal harp CDs, four lever harp
    CDs, and one pedal harp/lever harp CD, covering a whole bunch of
    genres (Note: the classical albums have a good mix of harp history —
    Grandjany, Salzedo, Renie, Tournier, etc.). If someone wanted a good
    starting background in the harp here is what I would give them:

    1. Jana Bouskova “Virtuoso Encores” (classical – pedal) Highlight:
    Chopin “Fantasie-Impromptu, Op. 66”
    (Posse), Parish-Alvars “La Mandoline.” My jaw literally drops every time I hear this album. Is what she does humanly possible?

    2. Judy Loman “Harp Showpieces” (classical – pedal) Highlight: best
    Hasselmans’ “La
    Source” of the 27 recordings I’ve listened to. See my chart:
    La Source Chart

    3. Elizabeth Hainen “Music for Solo Harp”
    (classical – pedal)
    Highlight: Chopin “Aeolian Harp
    Etude, Op. 25, No. 1″ (Posse), Liszt “Un Sospiro” (Renie). I bought a
    letter written by Franz Liszt to Wilhelm Posse from a European
    manuscript dealer after listening to this album. I now have both their
    molecules on my harpstand. They intermingle with my harpstrings.
    Someday I will learn these pieces. Thank you, Ms. Hainen for changing
    the course of my life.

    4. Susann McDonald “Caprice” (classical – pedal) Highlight: Godefroid “Romance
    without Words/Bois
    Solitaire” Nobody does agogic accents like Ms. McDonald. I

    5. Alan Stivell “Renaissance de la Harp Celtique” (wire – the album
    started the renaissance of the lever harp, wire and otherwise as we
    know them today) Out of print for many years, get it while you can.
    I took 13 lessons on a small harp 30 years ago because of this album. A
    quote from
    the Sylvia Woods Harp Center website:


    Wonderful, to all of the above! I

    Kathleen Clark

    I so totally agree with your choices. It is so hard to narrow the list
    to ten with so many genres and recordings out there (a good thing for

    I had a hard time leaving Dorothy Ashby off my list, as her recording
    is probably more ‘landmark’ than the one jazz recording I listed, which
    I went with because it showcases jazz on both pedal and lever.

    Zabaleta definitely needs to be on the list. The classical albums I
    list do duplicate each other some, so Zabaleta could take the place of
    any one of them (it would be hard for me to decide which one though).

    I thought about ‘landmark’ versus ‘historical’ with regard to Salzedo
    and Grandjany, etc., then opted for the other albums since their music
    is on them, plus more. What we need is a landmark list for each genre,
    or a separate ‘historical’ list.


    Hi Kathleen,

    Yes, the “landmark” issue is hard one – I just avoided that and listed a spread of repertoire that I recommend for students and friends of mine. I chose the Spanish repertoire for Zabaleta, as I thought it balanced the other choices we both listed

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