|Complete CD liner notes from A Harp
"Marcel Grandjany was one of the most influential harpists of this century.
An incredible musician, he also won recognition as a composer. As well
as his original compositions, he transposed numerous pieces for the harp,
two of which are on this recording.
Louis Spohr based his Variationen on a theme by opera composer E.N.
Mehul that roughly translated means I am once again in my springtime. The
piece starts with the theme, is followed by four variations, and ends with
a Rondo. Spohr, who in his time was famous as a composer and violinist,
became interested in the harp due to his marriage to harp virtuoso Dorette
Schienler. The toured across Europe together. For their concerts, Spohr
composed a number of pieces for harp and violin, as well as for solo harp.
Marcel Tournier was a French harpist and composer whose work has a very
distinctive sound. I used this piece as an encore when I performed this
C.P.E. Bach's Sonata for Harp is one of the few works of his period
(1714-1788) that was written specifically for the harp. I have used Jane
B. Weidensaul's scholarly-performance edition, completed in 1979, which
among other things correctly places the slow movement first, unlike earlier
versions which had the adagio second for a more familiar fast, slow, fast
In the second of his two Divertissements (l'espagnole) Andre Caplet
employs an interesting effect called a pedal slide. To play a pedal slide,
one plays a string and then uses the pedal controlling the string to either
release or shorten the string, so that it is now vibrating at a different
frequency. Pedal slides are more effective the lower down the harp one
goes. For example, l'espagnole starts by playing the first, second, third,
and fourth E below middle C, with the E pedal set in natural, and then
releasing the pedal to E flat, creating a very dramatic opening.
The last piece on this recording, Hans Trnecek's transcription of Smetana's
The Moldau, is a particular favorite of mine. The Moldau is the second
of six movements from Smetana's cycle of symphonic poems, Ma Vlast (My
Father land). Written towards the end of the 1860's, it celebrates the
Czech national heritage. The Moldau describes the river Moldau as it flows
from two sources through forests and across meadows towards Prague, past
the Vyshrad and out into the Elbe."