Reviews

GMCD 7316 – Songs Without Words – Music for flute and harp

Andrea Kollé – Flute, Jasmine Vollmer – Harp

To the CD in our Shop


American Record Guide September / October  2008

This is delightful. I recently reviewed a flute­and-harp release that was so boring it made me want to stick a sharp stick into my brain thru my ear, so I was hoping this would restore my appreciation for the combination. I was not disappointed. The musicians are quite capable. The flutist has a beautiful, singing tone with a wide range of dynamics just what this music deserves. I admire harpists who play with not only technical skill but also a clear sense of phrase and line, and that is certainly the case here. Their program, all transcriptions, is well conceived and ordered in such a way that you can listen from Start to Finish Without losing interest. If you enjoy elegant, well-crafted music played with skill and grace, this is for you.
CHAFFEE

Musik & Theater 10.08

Flöte und Harfe – die Kombination hat etwas Sphärisches, Himmli­sches. So hat sie denn nicht wenige Komponisten, vorab Franzosen, in­spiriert; tatsächlich eignet dieser Zusammenstellung durchaus fran­zösischer Esprit. Selbst Mozart schrieb sein berühmtes Harfen – Flöten-Konzert für einen französi­schen Herzog und dessen Tochter. Andrea Kolle, Soloflötistin am Zür­cher Opernhaus, und Jasmine Voll­mer, ebenfalls am Operhaus tätig, haben sozusagen von Berufes we­gen eine Affinität zur gesungenen Musik. Das brachte die beiden da­zu, sich für einmal des Repertoires des Musiktheaters zu bemächtigen. Neben Intermezzi aus Opern – etwa von Mascagni, Massenet und Tschaikowsky – finden sich in der aparten Zusammenstellung eben­falls die Transkriptionen von zwei Mozart-Liedern. Vokalkompositionen von Faure, Poulenc und de Falla stehen rumänischen Volksweisen gegenüber. Dazwischen eingestreut erklingt eine Anzahl von Mendelssohns Liedern ohne Worte, welche die Idee dieses «wortlosen» Genres bereits vorwegnahmen. Andrea Kol­les delikater, biegsamer Ton holt aus den Miniaturen atmosphärisches Kolorit und sorgt, wo nötig, für bril­lante Virtuosität. Jasmine Vollmer flechtet um die eingängigen Mclo­dien ein perlendes, funkelndes Geschmeide. Resultat: eine gekonnt gemachte Wohlfühl-CD von erstaunlicher Vielfalt – was durch das fulminante rumänischeTrinklied am Schluss nochmals effektvoll un­terstrichen wird.
Bruno Rauch

Tibia 04-08

Im kammermusikalischen Bereich hat sich zwar längst das Klavier als Begleitinstrument einge­bürgert, doch aufgrund seiner Klangfülle muss man sich immer mit dem leicht entstehenden akustischen Ungleichgewicht zu Lasten eines Melodieinstruments auseinandersetzen. Zupf­instrumente wie Gitarre, Mandoline oder Harfe sind in dieser Hinsicht wesentlich unproblema­tischer und eignen sich als „Partner” gerade für Instrumente mit geringerem Klangvolumen viel besser, was auch die vorliegende CD mit Bear­beitungen für Flöte und Harfe einmal mehr beweist. Der Titel ist aus inhaltlichen Gründen gewählt worden, weil neun der insgesamt vier­undzwanzig Nummern Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdys im Original für Klavier komponier­ten Lieder ohne Worte entlehnt sind; hinzu kommen Liedarrangements von Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Gabriel Faure, Manuel de Falla und Francis Poulenc sowie Ausschnitte aus Opern (Pique Dame von Peter Tschaikowsky, Don Quixote von Jules Massenet und Cavalleria rusticana von Pietro Mascagni). Meistens handelt es sich um eher getragene und damit melodiebetonte Stücke, bei denen die Aufgabenverteilung der beiden Instrumente klar geregelt ist. Umso mehr entzückt deshalb der rhythmisch mit Synkopen abwechslungs­reich gestaltete Arabische Gesang aus der Sin­fonischen Dichtung Scheherazade von Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakow. Die Bearbeitungen sind sehr geschickt angefertigt, wenn sie auch das Original nie ersetzen und diesem allenfalls einen neuen Aspekt abgewinnen können. Die beiden Musikerinnen erweisen sich als ein her­vorragend eingespieltes Team, das bestens har­moniert und die meist kurzen Stücke sehr leben­dig interpretiert.
Georg Günther

Sensitivity, intelligence and excellent communication …

MusicWeb Friday May 23 2008

This CD comprises twenty-four short transcribed works for flute and harp, the majority of which was composed in the late 1800s.

The disc begins with a selection from Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words, which give their name to this CD. Originally intended for solo piano, these transcriptions work well for flute and harp.  They are performed with a lightness of touch which captures the style well. Mendelssohn composed 48 of these short pieces in total, and this disc contains arrangements of nine in two sets.

The Mozart songs which follow have perhaps a little more harmonic substance and variety, but share the same lightness.  In contrast, the opening of Tchaikovsky’s Romance from Pique Dame is gloriously dark and veers away from the stereotype of a pretty and angelic flute and harp sound. I also very much enjoyed the Siciliana from Cavalleria Rusticana, although the Intermezzo wasn’t quite as convincing as a transcription – somehow it just didn’t have the same strength and passion as a string orchestra, and some of the phrasing was not as stylized as I would have liked.

Following the enjoyable Romanesca Antica by Massenet, the music returns to Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words, with a second selection of four of the songs. I particularly enjoyed the last of these, the Venetian Gondola Song [15], which communicated a strong sense of musical involvement from both the players.

We are then taken to French salon music, with songs by Fauré. These suit the combination very well, with the harp providing gentle accompaniment under emotive flute melodies.  There is some beautiful playing here and a much greater musical depth is apparent.
The opening of Poulenc’s A sa Gitare is instantly demanding of attention, due to the change of harp sound, mimicking a guitar. This is highly effective and a very welcome change of timbre. This piece takes on the style of a medieval lute song, with the words from the original version for voice and harp coming from a 16th century text. Poulenc is expert at combining elements from the old and the new, and his twentieth century voice is unmistakable.

The performance of Manuel De Falla’s Nana is haunting, simple and lovely. The Soneta a Córdoba is refreshingly modern and entirely convincing. Although I was initially a little unsure about the Scheherezade transcription, it was so well performed that in the end I was almost convinced. There are some strange cuts from the orchestral version, which are at times jarring, but in essence parts of this work extremely well, not least the rhapsodic sections, which are performed here with sensitivity and understanding. Perhaps curiously, the disc ends with a Romanian Folk Tune, entitled ‘who’s put the pub in my way?’  Finishing the CD with this was a stroke of genius. It shows humour, humility, a completely different style of playing, and gives a sense of the personality of these performers. Thoroughly enjoyable.

One of the big problems with flute and harp as a combination, I believe, and speaking also as someone who has played in this combination for many years, is variety of sound. The two instruments together produce a wonderful sonority, which has been exploited in many ways by a wide combination of composers. But programming is difficult, because after a while the sound can become sickly-sweet, and can fall into the trap of stereotyped, pretty music. When I first received this CD it seemed like another disc of nice-sounding, undemanding repertoire. To an extent, of course, it is, but it goes beyond that. The performers treat each of the works differently, and perform with sensitivity, intelligence and excellent communication. The programming is interesting and imaginative, and put together with much thought.  This duo has only been working together since 2005; I very much look forward to more from them in the future.
Carla Rees