Putting the harp nicely in the spotlight

The harp gets a rare outing as a solo instrument on this disc as Claire Jones and her instrument revel in the limelight

Composer: Glière, Debussy, Mozart
Repertoire: Harp Concertos 
Artists: English Chamber Orchestra/Paul Watkins
Rating:  4/5
Genre: Orchestral
Label: Signum SIGCD216

The Music: The harp normally gets short shrift as a solo instrument, so this enjoyable programme is a rare treat. The Glière Harp Concerto is easy on the ear; it sounds more from 1880s Paris than its true birthplace, 1930s Russia. Debussy’s sophisticated Danse Sacrée et danse profane set it off excellently, and the Mozart Flute and Harp Concerto is the obvious companion piece. 

The Performance: This is very much Claire Jones’s disc. Solo harp opportunities are not plentiful, so one can hardly blame Jones for making the most of her limelight. She performs diligently and allows the instrument to gleam and twinkle sonically in front of the self-effacing ECO. William Bennett is an eloquent flute partner in the Mozart. The total effect, though, does outstay its welcome ever so slightly; the Mozart feels a tad over-obedient, as well as sluggish in tempo, and the saccharine Glière, while charming at first, is not given enough variety of colouristic magic to sustain the enchantment throughout.

The Verdict: This disc is nice. Very, very nice. Maybe a bit too nice. Pleasing, correct playing. Nothing wrong with that, but if you want fire and ice, you won’t find it here. Want More? Glière, who taught the youthful Prokofiev and ended up running the Kiev Conservatoire, is best known for his gigantic Third Symphony. Give it a whirl.