CD A0127: Carnaval de Venise

Carnaval de Venise
Catrin Finch

CD cover: Carnaval de Venise by Catrin Finch

Carnaval de Venise is one of Catrin Finch's earliest CDs on which she performs a stunning international programme of music for the harp. Remarkable performances from one of the brightest stars in the harp world today.

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Catrin Finch Profile & index of recordings and sheet music

Tracl Listing & Audio Samples

  J S Bach (1685-1750)  
  Italian Concerto  
1 i
2 ii
3 iii
  Paul Hindemith (1895-1963)  
4 i
5 ii
6 iii
7 Gabriel Faure (1845-1924)
Impromptu - Opus 86
8 E. Parish-Alvars (1808-1849),
Introductions and Variations, on themes from Bellini's 'Norma'
9 Carlos Salzedo (1885-1961)
Ballade - Opus 28
10 John Thomas (1826-1913),
Bugeilio'r Gwenith Gwyn - Watching the Wheat
11 Felix Godefroid (1818-1897)
Carnaval de Venise

CD Notes & Credits

Sleeve Notes

Italian Concerto - I.S. Bach 1685-1750
The Goldberg Variations and the Italian Concerto are two works which stand out in Bach's keyboard compositions. The Variations, written in 1742 are the apotheosis of his intellect and the Concerto written in 1735, a distillation of original ideas but influenced by all the arrangements he made of the Concerti of Vivaldi (and other Italian composers) for solo harpsichord.

It is interesting to note that Handel was writing original music for the harp at the same time, and of course, musicians were always borrowing from each other's repertoire. The Italian Concerto sounds particularly well on the harp.

The first movement has a fanfare-like opening and this "tutti" is artfully contrasted with 'solo' passages. The slow movement is remarkable for the lovely long melodic line which is spun over a simple bass and thirds which act as a harmonic counterpoint. The last movement is full of exciting scales, fascinating counterpoint and rushes headlong to a magnificent close.

Sonata - Paul Hindemith 1895-1963 Mässig-Schnell - Lebhaft - Sehr Langsam
In Germany, Hindemith is considered the successor to Richard Strauss. However his style is quite different, embracing neo-classicism, atonality and the baroque structures of J.S. Bach. Harpists are indeed lucky to have such a composition in their repertoire.

Written for Clelia Gatti Aldrovandi in 1939, the Harp Sonata is romantic in nature though classical in structure. The third movement, "Lied" is prefaced by one of Hòlty's poems, and this becomes the 'argument' of the whole Sonata.

The first movement suggests the massive architecture of the Church, the second - a scherzo, children playing games, and the third follows the words of the poem. In fact, the words can be scanned with the melodic line.

Dear friends, when I have departed,
Place the little harp behind the altar,
Where on the wall, the wreaths of
Many young maidens gleam.
Then, the sexton shows the little harp
To the friendly traveller, and the

Red ribbon, twined around the harp,

Rustles and flutters below the golden strings
Often at sunset - he says with awe,
The strings hum quietly like bees,
And the children, hearing the sounds
Run in from the churchyard and

See the wreaths quivering.
L. H. Chr: Hòlty

Impromptu - Opus 86 - Gabriel Fauré
Fauré will always be remembered for his wonderful song-writing; beautiful melodies ­memorable yet refined - and an unusual sensitivity for the poetry he set to music.

The Impromptu, which was commissioned in 1904, is unusual as it lacks the rhapsodic flow found in many of his compositions. Instead he juxtaposes a theme in noble chords with melodic fragments of nocturnal beauty. The second part again announces the initial theme (this time in Arpeggi) and moves toward two variations of suspended magic and a brilliant coda.

It is now known that the dedicatee, Alphonse Hasselmans, had a hand in the composition. Some of the figurations in the second half come from him. As the manuscript is lost, we shall never know to what extent he wrote, or re-wrote certain passages. However the piece remains in every harpist's repertoire, an important addition to recital programmes.

Introduction and Variations - Op. 36 - Elias Parish Alvars 1808-1849
On themes from "Nonna" by Bellini
Parish Alvars was the most famous harpist of the nineteenth century and his spectacular playing prompted Berlioz to call him the "Liszt of the Harp".

He was born in Teignmouth, Devon, and subsequently studied with Dizi Labarre and Bochsa. At the age of sixteen he was already well known as a performer. His successful concert tours took him all over Europe and also to the Middle East. In 1846 he stayed in Leipzig where his friendship with Mendelssohn had a powerful effect on his last compositions. In 1847 he settled in Vienna and was appointed Chamber Musician to the Emperor. He died there in 1849.

He made many arrangements of operatic themes, wrote several concerti, and his legacy of "Bel Canto" pieces is the most prolific and important in the harpist's repertoire.

Ballade - Opus 28 - CarIos Salzedo 1885-1961
Born in France, Salzedo distinguished himself early, playing both piano and harp. In fact, at the age of sixteen, he won his "Premier Prix" on both instruments on the same day at the Paris Conservatoire.

In 1909 he was appointed harpist to the Metropolitan Opera House, beginning a career in the United States which was to have an important influence on harpists and composers alike.

Tiring of the Harp's romantic image, he wrote compositions which incorporated new sounds and effects. Edgar Varese was one of the first composers to use these effects, assuring the harp a secure and important place in contemporary music.

The Ballade appeared in 1914, one of Salzedo's earliest compositions. Of supreme technical difficulty, it is still cast in a romantic idiom, reminding one of Liszt's musical legacy. However there are moments of impressionism and fascinating harmonic progressions. Ingenious chromaticism and repeated notes introduce more modern elements.

Watching the wheat - John Thomas 1826-1913 Bugeilio'r Gwenith Gwyn
John Thomas was born in Bridgend, South Wales. He showed such promise at an early age that Lady Lovelace (the daughter of Byron) enabled him to study at the Royal Academy of Music in London.

He was prolific as a composer and arranger and is probably still best known for his folk song arrangements, which are often played by harpists today. "Watching the wheat" is certainly the most popular one and in the final variation, the melody is embroidered with delicate arpeggi in the most delightful way.

Carnaval de Venise - Felix Godefròid 1818-1897
Felix Godefroid was born in Namur, Belgium, and studied with Nadermann and Parish Alvars. Berlioz wrote:- "He is the master of his instrument and of such formidable force that there can be no comparison". His compositions are in a grand romantic style freeing themselves from the more classic style of Parish Alvars. He was well known for his four finger trills and they found their way into many of his compositions including the Carnival of Venice. This famous theme was used by many composers, most notably Paganini, and Godefroid has written variations which are fascinating for the contrasts in subtle and devilish techniques.

Programme notes by Professor David Watkins, FGSM, Hon ARAM

© 2001 David Watkins


A digital recording made at Sain Studios, Llandurrog, in November, 2000.
Producer Elinor Bennett.
Studio and editing engineer Siwan Lisa Evans.
Studio manager Eryl Bryn Davies.
Director Dafydd lwan.
Photography Gwynant Parri

Made in Wales

Album Information

Instruments: Harp
Genre: Classical
Format: CD
Our Ref: A0127
Label: Sain
Year: 2001
Origin: Wales (UK)