Something In The Air


On Air, harpist Yolanda Kondonassis' 14th recording on the Telarc label, she vividly illustrates the connections between Debussy and Takemitsu with music for harp, flute, and strings. Her first-rate colleagues are the flutist Joshua Smith, violist Cynthia Phelps and the chamber ensemble Oberlin 21, conducted by Bridget-Michaele Reischl.

Globalization is sometimes thought of as a product of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, but the roots of musical globalization are far older. In 1889, Debussy became fascinated with a Javanese gamelan ensemble he heard at the Paris Exposition, which had a profound impact on his future compositions. Many years later, the Japanese composer Toru Takemitsu said "I consider Debussy my teacher."

Air includes an evocative rendition of Debussy's "Danses sacrée et profane" for harp and string orchestra, a shimmering soundscape he wrote in 1904 to showcase a new chromatic harp produced by the Pleyel company. Next on the disc is Takemitsu's spare, haunting "And Then I Knew 'Twas Wind" for flute, viola and harp, whose title is taken from a poem by Emily Dickinson.

Other Takemitsu works included on the album include "Toward the Sea II" (for alto flute, harp and string orchestra) and his introspective "Air" for solo flute. Smith also displays his talents in a evocative rendition of Debussy's impressionistic "Syrinx" for solo flute and the Sonata for Flute, Viola, and Harp.