Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Guest Post: Harp Music

After one of the brightest and loudest instrument in the orchestra, the trumpet, here comes the softest and gentlest one: the harp. Ruth Mar is a harpist, teacher, and designer, who "plucks strings and pushes pixels in the Pacific Northwest." She curated two excellent playlists, with works specifically written for harp - no transcriptions. Here's Ruth:


My aim with both these playlists is to show the harp's wide range of color.  The harp is often pigeonholed as a romantic, soothing instrument; but it's really capable of so much more! Check out especially the second Caplet Divertissement,  Holliger Praludium, and Schafer Crown of Ariadne from the Intro list for some more unusual / percussive harp sounds. Spotify has an impressive collection of harp music from reputable artists; I've discovered several few works I'd never heard before (including the Genzmer from the chamber music list).

I tried to balance between both standard and lesser known works and feature a variety of the excellent artists on Spotify. Both lists also only include works written originally for harp.

Harp Music Intro (27 tracks, 2 hours) - A mix of solo works and concerti movements. I arranged it purely according to personal preference, rather than chronologically.

Works included:
Andre Caplet / Divertissements a la francaise & a l'espagnole
George Frederic Handel / Concerto in B-flat Major, Mvt. 1
Alphonse Hasselmans / La Source
Paul Hindemith / Sonate, Mvt. 1
Benjamin Britten / Fugue from Suite, Op. 83 and Interlude from A Ceremony of Carols
Dittersdorf / Concerto in A, Larghetto
Srul Irving Glick / King David Sonata, II. David and Saul
David Watkins / Fire Dance from Petite Suite
Carlos Salzedo / Quietude and Whirlwind from 5 Preludes
W.A. Mozart / Concerto for Flute and Harp K 299, II. Andantino
Marcel Grandjany / Children's Hour Suite
Marcel Tournier / Vers la Source dans le Bois
Heinz Holliger / Praludium from Praludium, Arioso and Passacaglia
Gabriel Faure / Une Chatelaine en sa tour…
Lynn Wainwright Palmer / Prelude and Sarabande from Classical Suite
Gabriel Faure / Impromptu, Op. 86
Kelly-Marie Murphy / Star from Illuminations
Henriette Renie / Danse des Lutins
Joaquin Rodrigo / Concerto Serenade, 3. Sarao
Marjan Mozetich / Freedom from Songs of Nymphs
R. Murray Schafer / Ariadne's Dance from The Crown of Ariadne
Carlos Salzedo / Ballade, Op. 28
Claude Debussy / Danses Sacree et Profane

Harp Chamber Music (35 tracks, 2 hours)

I really believe that the harp shines in chamber music. It blends beautifully with a wide spectrum of instruments and voice types; and can easily move between accompaniment and solo roles. The smaller instrumentation also allows it to be heard clearly. For this list, full works are included.

Works included:
Claude Debussy / Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp
Sebastien Currier / Night Time for Violin and Harp
Camille Saint-Saens / Fantaisie pour violon et harp, Op. 124
Vincent Persechetti / Serenade No. 10 for flute and harp
Andre Jolivet / Chant de Linos for Flute, Violin, Viola, Cello, and Harp
Harald Genzmer / Trio for Flute, Viola, and Harp
Arnold Bax / Elegaic Trio for Flute, Viola, and Harp
Anonymous / Nocturne for horn and harp
Benjamin Britten / Canticle V: The Death of St. Narcissus, Op. 89 for tenor and harp
Marcel Tournier / La Lettre Du Jardinier pour chant et harpe
Andre Caplet / Conte fantastique for harp and string quartet
Jean Cras / Quintette for flute, harp and strings
Adrian Schaposhnikov / Sonata for flute and harp
Maurice Ravel / Introduction et Allegro for flute, clarinet, string quartet and harp

Guest post by Ruth Mar


  1. You are a national treasure, and the guest post idea is a treasure also! I am always woefully behind in my listening, but do look forward to catching up with all you and your guests have compiled for us.

    As for the harp, I recommend an addition: John Metcalf's CD, Paths of Song, is entirely harp-based chamber music. Also, though it doesn't appear to be available on Spotify, there is the Harp Scrapbook, for solo harp, which appears on the CD Sea of Glass. Both provide endless pleasure for me, and I hope this will be true for Ruth Mar and for others too.

    I am very much enjoying listening to Ruth Mar's list.

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