Marcel Grandjany was one of the leading French harpists of the 1900s. He was well-known as a performer and teacher, as well as a composer for the harp. He was a champion of the French Method in the United States, which is one of two mainstream technique methods taught to harpists around the world today. Rhapsodie is one of his masterworks, and it incorporates many elements of the quintessential French style of music written for the harp. Its character is constantly changing and runs the gamut from warm and rich to airy, wispy, and flowing.
Fantaisie pour violon et harpe
This chamber work is set as a single movement, but is composed of three smaller sections. Each one has its own unique character, but the work comes full circle at the end with a return of the opening material. This piece is idiomatically written for both the violin and the harp. Each instrument alternately rises to the top of the texture to carry the melody at different moments throughout the piece. Saint-Saëns’ use of the combined timbres and colors of the violin and harp is perfectly lush and beautiful.
This piece is the second in a suite of Spanish dances by Enrique Granados. It was originally composed for the piano, but has been transcribed for other instruments as well. This particular version was transcribed and arranged for harp by my teacher, Jacquelyn Bartlett. Although this piece is seemingly simple, its transparent texture requires great attention to detail, and is a joy to play and explore musically.
This zesty finale to David Watkins’ Petite Suite is a cornucopia of rhythmic excitement. It is full of hemiolas and other cross rhythms as well as plenty of syncopation. This piece also incorporates many different unusual harp techniques that change the sound of the instrument and add to the Technicolor aural palette of this piece.
This piece was at the crux of an intense competition between two rival harp companies at the beginning of the twentieth century. Both the Erard and Pleyel companies were in a race against each other to produce the first workable chromatic harp for the contemporary classical concert stage. Erard hired Ravel to write a piece to showcase the full ability of its new instrument, while the Pleyel company hired Debussy to write a piece for their harp. Although the Erard/Ravel harp ended up being the eventual “winner,” Debussy’s composition remains as a beautiful gem of the harp concerto repertoire. It has Debussy’s compositional signature all over it – parallel ascending and descending major chords, and floating, ambiguous harmonies and rhythms – but most important, it explores all of the new chromatic capabilities of the twentieth century harp.
Program Notes by Amber Carpenter
Ms. Carpenter is from the harp studio of Professor Jacquelyn Bartlett.
This recital is given in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the