Thursday, 19 August 2010

In Praise of the Harp

I really like the harp. Mozart wrote a Concerto for Flute and Harp. Ravel, an Introduction and Allegro which includes it. I'm fond of both. Then there's this piece by Stockhausen, which I didn't know until I found it on Youtube the other day. Stockhausen had a reputation as a contraversial enfant terrible. Often this made his music more, not less difficult to take in: it clouded the fact that the driving force behind the music of this creator of radical sound-worlds is that of a deeply religious composer.

It's hard to know when you are used to the unusual sound-worlds of twentieth century classical music, but I think this piece might make quite a good "way in" to Stockhausen's music. I think it's delightful.


The Weaver of Grass said...

In spite of the first few minutes sounding as though Big Ben's "dongers" had got mixed up and both harpists looking surprisingly like heavenly beings, I found this most interesting, not least because of the absolute interplay of the two parts - the two women were almost as one. Then using their voices too. Amazing stuff although not the kind of stuff I would listen to for relaxation. It certainly helped having the picture of them playing to watch.

Totalfeckineejit said...

As difficult as this piece is, I have time for it.If there is such a thing as a deep sea clam, this would be it's song, of panic, of depression, and of joy.

Poet in Residence said...

Whenever I'm lucky enough to get a ticket for the Vienna Philharmonic one of the first things I do on taking my seat in the gallery is to scan the stage and fix my gaze on the left side and the harps. If they are there you don't need to tell me that what I'm about to hear is something special. Composers who write good music include the harp. It's a rule of thumb. Or at least it should be. The fact that it's Wales's national instrument and appears in 7th place, just below Cardiff Arms Park but 7 places above Corgi, on David Greenslade's comprehensive list* of 70-odd Welsh icons didn't influennce me one bit...honest!

*Cambrian Country Welsh Emblems by David Greenslade (pub: Gwasg Carreg Gwalch 2000)

George said...

An interesting piece, Dominic. I kept thinking that the two harps, swaying slightly back and forth, were like a single beating heart, with separate valves or chambers all working in unison.