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Great Works for Harp

4.9 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 14, 1995
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Product Details

  • Performer: Nicanor Zabaleta
  • Conductor: Ernst Marzendorfer, Paul Kuentz
  • Composer: Johann Georg Albrechtsberger, Francois-Adrien Boieldieu, Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf, George Frederick Handel, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, et al.
  • Audio CD (March 14, 1995)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Deutsche Grammophon
  • ASIN: B000001GLD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #188,699 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
Nicano Zabaleta was perhaps the first of the superstar virtuoso harpists of the stereo era and his recordings remain touchstones of unhurried virtuosity coupled with elegant musicianship. These performances are beginning to show their age a bit in sound, but the performances are luminous. The Boieldieu Concerto is seldom encountered in concert, but what a lovely, melodic and enchanting work. Today, Marielle Nordman and Marisa Robles both have very fine recordings of the concerto, but Zabaleta's is still worthy, and in this package, quite a bargain. The Albrechtsberger concerto is equally unfamiliar to many listeners and also a charmer, and the performance of the Handel concerto offered in a warm style that may seem a bit old fashioned by today's Original Instrument crowd, but it is highly persuasive. The Debussy and Ravel pieces are given appealing performances, again somewhat large scale compared to some of the chamber performances in the catalog, but brilliantly played.
The only weak link is the Mozart concerto, and weak only because there are so many good performances of the piece now available. I find the performance a bit stiff, but given the other recordings in this set and the low price, it's still a definite find for anyone who loves music for harp and orchestra.
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I certainly realize that this is an older recording but this is also an absolutely wonderful collection of some outstanding works for the harp played by Nicanor Zabaleta. There are 8 composers represented, each with an outstanding composition for harp and orchestra. I have never tired of listening to this CD over the last 20 years, it is rich and varied.

Georg Friedrich Haendel's Concerto pour harpe et orchestre en si bemol majeur, op. 4 no. 6 has been a favorite of mine for over 20 years. It immediately transports me into a state of serenity. It is utterly beautiful with the wonderful support for the harp with the string instruments of the orchestra. The movements remain light, floating, and flowing.

Johann Georg Albrechtberger's Concerto pour harpe et orchestre en ut majeur is a perfect piece to follow the Handel piece since it has more integration of the orchestra into the piece but the harp holds its own amongst the orchestral textures. The influence of Handel seems evident, but this is not meant as a negative comment. On the contrary, the for six movements of this CD moving from Handel to Albrechtsberger is seemless.

Karl Ditters Von Dittersdorf's Concerto pour harpe et orchestre en la majeur has a Mozart sound with flowing harp scales supported by the orchestra. The piece ends with Rondeau: Allegretto that is upbeat energetic and fun. This is a great movement to have in the very center of the CD side 1 to keep the guest awake at your next party.

Maurice Ravel's Introduction et Allegro pour harpe, guatour a cordes, flute et clarinette is very different from the three composers that preceed him on the CD. They are baroque, full of flourish and fun. When we hear Ravel, the mood changes to lush romance.
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If you want a small, compact collection of fantastic harp music played to perfection, you don't need to go further than this album. There are some well-known pieces, such as Mozart's concerto for flute and harp and Ravel's Introduction and Allegro, as well as music by Handel and Debussy. Two lesser-known treasures, however, are Dittersdorf's Harp Concerto and the Concerto-Serenade by Rodrigo. As you can guess from these allusions, the two discs include music both of the 18th Century and the 20th. Nicanor Zabeleta displays his talents well as soloist, and Paul Kuentz and his chamber orchestra perform exquisitely. Highly recommended.
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Nicanor Zabaleta was truly a genious! I love this CD - especially the duets with the flute - Wish I had one oz. of the talent - I don't so next best thing is listening to it. Anyone who purchases this CD will NOT be disappointed.
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