Harp On This


Neglected or stereotyped instruments always need a boost from a determined champion. The harp found one in Carlos Salzedo, a harpist, pianist, pedagogue and composer of Spanish-Jewish heritage born in 1885 in the Basque region of Southern France. Both the harp and Salzedo now have a champion in Yolanda Kondonassis, a fleet-fingered harpist who performs his colorful music in a new Telarc release Salzedo's Harp.

The works featured represent a wide range of Salzedo's eclectic compositions, which Kondonassis plays with virtuosic flair and a broad palette of colors. Salzedo's "Variations sur un theme dans le style ancien" present a musical obstacle course of scales and arpeggios, trills and chords that Kondonassis easily surmounts.

The disc also includes performances of some lighthearted Latin dances: a Bolero, Rumba and Tango. The more astringent "Scintillation," which Kondonassis calls representative of Salzedo's transitional style, is full of unexpected harmonic twists and sweeping glissandos. "Chanson dans la nuit" and "Le Désirade" are written in an often-tonal language, but use contemporary devices such as the percussive "timpanic" and "falling hail" effects, which (as Kondonassis writes in the informative liner notes) Salzedo developed and popularized. The more modernist, whirlwind Sonata for Harp and Piano (accompanied by the able Kathryn Brown) veers between virtuosity and introspection.