CD A0120: Childsplay

Eleanor Turner

CD Cover: ChildsplayChildsplay is a collection of nine pieces that all have an association with childhood or youth. Six were composed for the harp and three have been adapted for the instrument from the original keyboard scores. The composers originate in Wales (Gareth Glyn), Scotland (Sophia Corri Dussek), New Mexico (Michael Mauldin), Spain (Isaac Albéniz). Armenia (Aram Khatchaturian), France (Louis Claude Daquin, Jean-Michel Damase), Germany (Louis Spohr) and England (Elias Parish-Alvars). The music spans three centuries, from 1735 to the present day.

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Audio Samples & Track Listing

Gareth Glyn
Chwarae Plant - Child’s Play
1 Barcutan (kite)
2 Tryc (cart with no brakes)
3 Olwyn Ddwr (water wheel)
4 Chwyrnas (whizzer)
Sophia Corri Dussek
Sonata No 1 in Bb
5 Allegro Moderato
6 Andante
7 Rondo, Allegro
Michael Mauldin
8 Prelude IV Dolce from 'Birds in Winter'
Isaac Albéniz
9 Preludio 'Leyenda' from 'Cantos de España
Aram Khatchaturian
10 Oriental Dance
Louis Claude Daquin
11 La Mélodieuse
Louis Sphor
12 Fantasie, Opus 35
Jean-Michel Damase
13 Sicilienne Variée
Elias Parish-Alvars
14 Introduction, Cadenza and Rondo from Fantasy on Italian Airs
Total running time 57:08


CD Notes & Credits

Sleeve Notes

Childsplay is a collection of nine pieces that all have an association with childhood or youth. Six were composed for the harp and three have been adapted for the instrument from the original keyboard scores. The composers originate in Wales (Gareth Glyn), Scotland (Sophia Corri Dussek), New Mexico (Michael Mauldin), Spain (Isaac Albéniz). Armenia (Aram Khatchaturian), France (Louis Claude Daquin, Jean-Michel Damase), Germany (Louis Spohr) and England (Elias Parish-Alvars). The music spans three centuries, from 1735 to the present day.

Eleanor Turner was born in Essex in 1982 and started learning the harp with Jane Phillips at the age of five. In 1993 Eleanor entered the Royal College of Music Junior Department where she studied harp with Daphne Boden, composition with Dr Peter Fribbins and piano with Mary Woolmer, for seven years. This gave Eleanor a firm foundation and passion for everything musicial. She received many awards whilst studying there, including the Freda Dinn & Ida Mabbett String Prize and the Gordon Turner Prize.

In 1997, aged fifteen. Eleanor won the Audi Junior Musician Strings Final. which led to her concerto debut at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London. Daniel Harding conducted this performance with the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Numerous awards followed, including the Royal Overseas League Annual Music Competition Award for Strings and Marisa Robles Harp Prize in 2000 and a Philip and Dorothy Green Award for Young Concert Artists in 2005. Eleanor won Second Prize in the Wales International Harp Competition 2006. which led her to record this CD.

Gareth Glyn (b. 1951)
1-4 Chwarae Plant - Child’s Play (2004)

Opening with the noble, expansive ‘Kire' this suite is a nostalgic exploration of a Welsh childhood in the days when kids had to make their own toys, had fun damming streams and making make-shift water wheels out of paper. A piece of cord spun on a double string maker a teriffic ‘whizzer’ and flying kites and careering head-over-heels down grassy banks has never gone out of fashion!

This music is about childhood freedom — a feeling of exhilaration that I experienced in my own childhood galloping across the Lincolnshire countryside on my pony. It is a noble sensation of beauty and greatness, first experienced as a child but permeating well into adulthood, which Gareth captures vividly in 'Child’s Play'

Sophia Corri Dussek (1775-1847)
5-7 Sonata No. 1 in Bb

Born in 1775 in Edinburgh, Sophia Corri received her early musical training from her father, Domenico Corri, who was a composer and teacher. Sophia had four siblings who all had musical careers and her mother was a singer. It was the natural path for Sophia to take when she went to study in London in 1790 with the acclaimed Czech composer and performer, Jan Ladislav Dussek.

Sophia fell in love with Dussek, who was almost twice her age, and soon the couple were married. They made many successful concert appearances together but the marriage wasn’t a happy union — there were affairs on both sides and grave financial difficulties. Dussek had entered into partnership with Sophia’s father in their music-publishing house Corri, Dussek & Co. The firm got into considerable debt in the years before 1800, which led to a short term in prison for Domenico Corri - a fate that Dussek avoided by fleeing to Hamburg.

Sophia, in spite of this, became increasingly accomplished and popular as a performer. Reviews from her concerts in the late 18th century document her fine voice and musicianship, and her skills on the pianoforte and pedal harp. Many of Sophia’s compositions were initially published simply under ‘Dussek', or even 'Jan Ladislav Dussek'. This led to many of Sophia’s compositions being attributed to her husband. However, thanks to the study of original and subseguent editions found in the British Library, it is certain that the Opus 2 Sonatas (of which the sonata heard on this disc is the first) were indeed written by Sophia Corri Dussek.

Michael Mauldin (b. 1947)
8 Prelude IV Dolce from Birds in Winter

Birds in Winter is a suite of six descriptive preludes for solo harp, It was written in 1989 for Rosalind Simpson, a harpist who lives and works in New Mexico. The suite was chosen as a required work for the 1998 USA InternationaI Harp Competition and it continues to grow in popularity with harplsts and audiences around the world, The fourth prelude is my favourite. I asked the composer if it had its own story and he told me this: ‘Even though we’re pretty far south here In New Mexico. Its at high altitude, It gets quite cold In the middle of winter. So not many birds actually spend the whole winter here, in the late fall, the marshes along the Rio Grande River attract thousands of migrating geese and herons. But up in the heights, next to the mountain, my studio has large sliding glass doors facing south. I remember seeing small birds (and a few large ones) during a sudden cold spell in late fall. Birds have sometimes been used (in mines to alert miners to toxic air) as an early-warning system. An avid environmentalist, I was expressing not only the sadness of the birds that I had humanized outside my doors, but my own grief that birds were likely to be the first, small victims of the poisons we continue to let loose

Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909)
9 Preludio from Cantos de España, Opus 232 Leyenda

Albéniz said of his music it contains sunlight, warmth and the taste of olives. In this Prelude to his Spanish Songs I sit at the harp and imagine myself as a guitarist sitting underneath one of those olive trees, soaking up the smell of jasmine and the sight of a distant Moorish castle. In the case of Albéniz, who was proud of his Moorish roots, this would have been a poignant image. The music pulses with the rhythms, tremolo and rasguedo strumming of Flamenco; the guitar based improvised dance music of the Gypsies of Andalusia.

The Moors were the Medieval Muslim inhabitants of Al-Andalus, the Iberian Peninsula including the present day Spain and Portugal, and the Maghreb and Western Africa, whose culture is often called Moorish. The Moors of Al-Andalus held the torch of learning and civilization when compared to the rest of Europe. From an early age Albéniz was transfixed by the folk music of Andalusia and throughout his career he brought all the colours, fabrics and senses of that captivating Southern region to concert platforms across the World.

Preludio has a simple ternary structure to which Albéniz has added a more harmonically sophisticated coda. The music begins with the evocative strumming of a solo guitar. Later on in the piece the guitar is accompanying the plaintive song of a Moorish woman. A repeated note D is present throughout the whole piece. In the first section, the D is rapidly and rhythmically articulated between the melody notes. In the central section the woman’s cry meanders loosely around the repeated D. In the coda, elements of Eastern and Western music intertwine. The plagal cadences are a sombre reminder of the influence of the Christians in Spain, then a hazy flourish of harmony suggestive of the Moors follows, closing on bare octave ‘G’s.

Aram Khatchaturlan (1903-1978)
10 Oriental Dance

This short dance was originally published in 1947 as the third of Ten Children’s Pieces for solo piano. The edition for harp is by Vera Dulova (1909-2000). Dulova founded the Russian harp school and was harpist with the Bolshoi theatre. She was also a friend of Khatchaturian, Shostakovich and several other soviet composers, many of whom wrote pieces for her.

In Oriental Dance, as in so many of Khatchaturian’s compositions, we hear the influence of his native Armenia. A Dayerah (or Doira) is a round, medium-sized frame drum with jingles, used to accompany both popular and classical music across the Middle East. Metal rings are attached around the edge of the circle, beneath the goat or fish skin that is stretched across the wooden frame. The doira player flicks the fingers of her right hand across the skin, suddenly releasing them in rhythm to create a sharp, snapping sound. The technique that Dulova used, to produce the percussive rapping on the harp’s soundboard, reminded Khatchaturian so strongly of the frame-drum that he named it the doira effect.

Louis Claude Daquin (1694-1772)
11 La Mélodieuse from Pièces de clavecin, Suite No.4

The graceful shifts between major and minor in La Mélodieuse are as effective today as they were in 1735, the year in which Daquin’s Premier livre de pièces de clavecin was first published in Paris. Daquin was renowned during his lifetime for his brilliant improvisations, in particular at the organ. He made a successful transition from child prodigy to professional musician, triumphing over Jean-Philippe Rameau in 1727 in a competition for the position of organist or St. Paul in Paris. Five years later, after a period of study with Louis Marchand, Daquin succeeded him as organist of the Cordeliers. In 1739 Daquin was appointed to the Chapelle Royale as organiste du roi and in 1755 he obtained one of the four posts at Notre Dame.

Daquin was a brilliant harpsichordist, writing characterful rondos for the instrument, such as Le Coucou. In the preface to Pièces de clavecin the composer draws our attention to the 'tender pieces filled with ornamental features, such as portamento, extended cadences and other ambitious elements', of which La Mélodieuse is a beautiful example. This piece is played on the harp using Daquins original manuscript.

Louis Spohr (1784-1659)
12 Fantasia In C Minor, opus 35

Louis Spohr won an enormous reputation during the nineteenth century as a composer, violin virtuoso, conductor and teacher. He was one of music’s great travellers, wrote an entertaining and informative autobiography, compiled an influential violin tutor, invented the violin chin-rest and was one of the pioneers of baton conducting. He loved parties, was a gifted painter, an enthusiastic rose grower, a keen swimmer, skater and hiker, played chess, billiards, dominoes, whist and ball games. Overrall, he was the antithesis of the lonely, tormented artist!

Spohr’s importance for his contemporaries as a composer and what enraptured them was his richness of harmony and command of modulation and chromaticism. While the content of his works made him a pioneer of early Romanticism, together with Weber, he generally adhered to classical proportions when it came to form. The Fantasia for harp is a good example of this.

When Spohr was appointed music director in Gotho in August 1805 he had just turned 21 and was, as he said in his Autobiography, ‘from his earliest youth very susceptible to female beauty'. Here, he soon fell madly in love with the 18 year old Dorette Scheidler, daughter of one of the court singers, Susanna Scheidler. In pursuing his courtship, Spohr brought his musical skills into play, first composing a concert aria for the mother and then a sonata for violin and harp, thus ensuring that he was able to meet Dorette regularly at rehearsal. Eventually the sonata was ready for performance and Spohr tells in his biography how this led to his proposal after the concert, when he at great length found the courage to ask Dorette "Shall we thus play together for life?" Bursting into tears, she sank into his arms and the compact for life was sealed!

Dorette was a phenomenal musical talent herself, excelling at the violin and piano as well as the harp, and she aided Spohr’s harp compositions immensely. Two years after the scene described above, Spohr composed the Fantasia for Dorette. In the some year (1807) Spohr conducted his orchestra accompanying Dorette in a Beethoven Piano Concerto, which she played between her performances at the harp in the very same concert! Despite having three children together, Dorette was constantly working. While her mother looked after the children, Dorette planned and performed concerts with her husband... and mended her harp! She also found countless ingenious methods of making quite impossible music playable on her single-action pedal harp, including tuning the entire instrument down a semitone to make the most successful harp keys correspond with the best violin keys. Therefore the Fantasia would actually have sounded in B Minor, not C Minor.

Biographical information used with permission from Keith Warsop. Chairman of the Spohr Society of Great Britain. To find out more, write to: The Secretary, Spohr Society of Great Britain, 123 Mount View Road, Sheffield SB BPJ, United Kingdom.

Jean-Michel Damase (b.1928)
13 Sicilienne Variée

Jean-Michel Domase wrote this showpiece for harp in 1966. It is a Sicilienne with many differences to the traditional slow dance called a ‘Siciliana'. This piece is predominantly in the key of F major and features a richly embellished melody that suits the soaring capabilities of the harp.

Damase’s intricate knowledge of the harp comes from his mother, the harpist Micheline Kahn. The lilting theme in 6/8 is first heard in harmonics (where the strings are plucked in a certain way to produce a pitch one octave higher, with a beautiful bell-like sonority) with a chordal accompaniment also in harmonics. The music then opens out into lush chords that sometimes touch on jazz harmonies. Damase varies the theme, endlessly shifting rhythm, texture and tessitura. Impressionistic in places, the notes dance around the harp in a piece that winks and nods at various styles and is full of cheeky fun.

Elias Parish-Alvars (1808-1849)
14 Introduction, Cadenza and Rondo from Fantasy on Italian Airs

This playful opera fantasy by Elias Parish-Alvars is full of youthful exuberance and a joy to play. The dramatic introduction typifies Parish-Alvars’ style, ranging from the opening fortissimo statement with both hands in unison octaves to the closing pianissimo section with carefully balanced bassline, soft arpeggiated figures and delicately placed harmonics.

The cadenza follows, making full use of the harp’s seven pedals to create wonderfully rich chords and‘enharmonic glissandi’: Using the pedals, two strings can be made to sound at the same pitch — this can be done up to three times in the octave and will be heard right across the seven-octave range of the instrument! The fingers then slide rapidly from one string to the next, up or down the instrument’s range, to produce the swooping sound in an actual chord.

Parish-Alvars was born in Teignmouth, Devon in 1808. He was the second son of Joseph Parish, an organist and music teacher, who started Eli on the harp at the age of three. Aged ten he gave his first concert performance and soon went on to study in London with Nicholas Boscha, a famous French virtuoso. Parish-Alvars settled in Vienna in 1834 and toured Europe extensively to rapturous praise and adulation.

Hailed by Berlioz as the ‘Liszt of the harp’ for his phenomenal technical prowess, many of Parish-Alvars’ compositions were based on the well-known operas of the day, winning his music instant popularity. He composed over a hundred pieces for the harp and contributed many effects and techniques that, once undreamed of, are now an essential part of every harpist’s repertoire.


Produced by James Boyd
Recorded by James Boyd at the Priory Church of St. Mary and the Holy Cross, Binham, Norfolk on 4 May 2006.
Design by Alice Potterton -

Eleanor is playing her Salvi Diana on tracks 1-4, 8, 10, 12-14
and a Sebastian & Pierre Erard on tracks 5-7, 9 and 11,
©2006 Arts in Fusion

Album Information

Instruments: Solo Harp
Genre: Contemporary / Classical
Format: CD
Our Ref: A0120
Label: Art in Fusion
Year: 2006
Origin: UK

Arist Information

Eleanor Turner

Eleanor TurnerWinner of 2nd Prize in Wales International Harp Competition 2006 and Philip and Dorothy Green Award for Young Concert Artists 2005

Eleanor Turner was just fifteen when she made her concerto debut at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London, with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields conducted by Daniel Harding. Eleanor is now one of the most innovative performers in the UK, presenting her own compositions alongside the classics of the harp repertoire.

Born in England in 1982, Eleanor started learning the harp at the age of five. In 1993 she began her formal musical education at the Royal College of Music Junior Department, studying harp with Daphne Boden. She won many awards there including the Freda Dinn and Ida Mabbett Prize and Gordon Turner Competition. Eleanor has participated in masterclasses abroad with Erika Waardenburg, Catherine Michel and Susann McDonald, and she is currently studying with Alison Nicholls in the UK.

In 2002 Eleanor won the Royal Over-Seas League Award for Strings and Marisa Robles Harp Prize. In 2003 her Harp Duo Double Action won 3rd Prize at the 5th International Competition for Chamber Music with Harp in Arles and was chosen to perform in the Park Lane Group Young Artists Series 2005.

Contact Details Eleanor Turner
18 Doughty Street
+44 (0)1780 766559
07811 444935
Artists Web Site

Recordings by Eleanor Turner

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Reaction Childsplay El Paño Moruno
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Lady of the Lake The Crown of