CD A0334: Fireworks & Fables

Fireworks & Fables
4 Girls 4 Harps

CD Cover: Fireworks & Fables by 4 Girls 4 HarpsSince forming in 2000, under the guidance of Daphne Boden at the Royal College of Music in London, 4 Girls 4 Harps have gone from strength to strength, creating and commissioning new music for harp quartet. Whilst each member of the group enjoys a varied career in their own right, the girls agree that rehearsing and performing as a unit is a real meeting of minds. Fireworks and Fables takes you on a journey across the globe, visiting countries as far afield as India, Spain and the Middle East. Enjoy the music!

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Track Listing & Audio Samples

1 Harriet Adie Sun, Moon and Stars - A Middle Eastern Sky
2 Ernesco Lecuona
Tr. Arabella Spamon
Malagueña 4.24
  Camille Saint-Saëns Le Carnaval des Animaux  
3   Volière
4   L'Éléphant
5   Aquarium
6   Le Cygne tr. Kajetan Attl
  Maurice Ravel Ma Mère L'Oye  
7   Pavane de la Belle aubois dormant 1.50
8   Laideronette, Impératrice des Pagodes
9   Les entretiens de la Belle et de la Bête
10 Eleanor Turner Rambla!
  G.F. Handel The Royal Fireworks Music & The Water Music  
11   La Réjouissance 3.15
12   Hornpipe
13   Alla Hornpipe
14 Edward Longstaff Saraswati 14.14
15 George Gershwin Summertime

CD Notes & Credits

Sleeve Notes

Sun, Moon and Stars
- A Middle Eastern Sky (2004) by Harriet Adie (b. 7980)
Sun, Moon and Stars — A Middle Eastern Sky was written as a memory of Harriet’s childhood in Oman. Each movement reflects different things about her experiences out there: Sun is full of the searing heat of the desert in high summer, the vivid colours found every day in the Souk (market place) and the call of the Mosque to prayer. Moon evokes the stillness of the mountains at night where silence was so absolute it could become oppressive and where, in the early evening, crickets could be heard gently chirping. Stars illustrates the cloudless night sky where one could lie back and watch the great expanse of sparkling and glittering stars before the sun rose once more. The three movements flow continuously, with the powerful opening motif of Sun being revised in the final stages of the piece as a gentle echo in the dawn of the new day.

Le Carnaval des Animaux by Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921).
Transcribed by H. Adie (Volière), E Turner (L’Éléphant, Aquarium), and K. Atti (Le Cygne).
The French composer Saint-Saens wrote his suite, ‘The Carnival of the Animals', when on holiday in Austria in February 1886, as a party piece for a group of musical friends. He refused to allow any movements, except forThe Swan, to be published in his lifetime, worried that the frivolous music and theme would damage his reputation as a serious composer. In our version for four harps, Aviary (Volière) features bisbigliandi (rapid tremolos alternating between the hands) to represent the twittering of the birds, whilst each harp takes a turn at the swooping gestures made on the flute in the original score. Harps are not normally used to depict elephants, but the sonorous bass wire strings are a match for Saint-Saëns’ double-bass! The shimmering iridescence of Aquarium and the stillness of The Swan reflect the harps’ magical ability to evoke the many qualities of water.

Ma Mère L’Oye by Maurice Ravel (1875-1937)
by H. AdiePavane de Ia Belle au bois Dormant - Laiderannette, Impératrice des Pagodes Les entretiens de la Belle et de la Bête.
Ma Mère L’Oye was originally written by Ravel for piano duet between 1908 and 1910. The work was dedicated to the two children of his friends the Godebskis, with the intention that these children would also give the first performance. The suite draws upon the fairy-tales of Perrault, Mine dAulnoy, and Mine de Beaumont for its inspiration, and the five original pieces are:

Pavane de Ia Belle au bois dormant, Petit Poucet, Laideronnette, Impératrice des Pagodes, Les entretiens de la Belle et de la Bête and Le jardin féerique. In 1911 Ravel wrote an orchestral version of the suite, and this became the basis of the ballet which was first performed in January 1912. For this Ravel wrote some additional pieces (a Prélude and Danse du rouet et scène) as well as some connecting interludes. Ravel wrote that “the idea of evoking in these pieces the poetry of childhood naturally led me to simplify my style and to refine my means of expression”. This can clearly be heard in the Suite through the peaceful, uncomplicated nature of the Pavane de la Belle au bois dormant (reflected in Harriet’s arrangement through the pure sound of the harp’s harmonics) and in the delicate melody representing ‘Belle’ in Les entretiens de la Belle et de la Bête. In Laideronnette, lmpératrice des Pagodes, Ravel evokes the Oriental setting of this story with the use of the pentatonic scale heard throughout the movement and (in his orchestral version) the inclusion of tuned percussion. This flavour is further enhanced in Harriet’s arrangement by using the bass strings of the harp as a ‘gong’!

Rambla! (2007) by Eleanor Turner (b. 1982)
Rambla! was composed following a trip that Eleanor made to Southern Spain and is inspired by the rhythms of flamenco, the timbre of the guitar and the following anecdote. Eleanor visited the market town of Albox which, in the midst of Europe’s only desert, is host to a Rambla; a dry river bed, normally used as a road. Like thousands of others, Eleanor parked her car on the parched ground, only later to hear that once or twice every year Andalucia receives a burst of rain fall that causes a flash flood, turning the Rambla into a fast flowing river for a few hours! The landscape undergoes a drastic and unforeseen change, flood waters completely filling the high concrete banks of the river and gushing through with wild and gleeful abandon, sweeping away cars and vans that aren’t rescued in time!

La Rejouissance and Two Hornpipes by G.F. Handel (1685-1759) arr E. Turner
It was the freshness and celebratory character of these three pieces that inspired Eleanor to arrange them for the group. She wanted ‘The Rejoicing’ to boast the richness of Handel’s orchestration and the interweaving polyphonic texture. In contrast, the two hornpipes from The Water Music must delight in Handel’s clear cut homophony, prevalent in so many of his compositions. In 1715 Handel wrotehis Water Music for one of King George l’s processions down the RiverThames. With so much impressionistic repertoire. the quartet finds real pleasure in bringing to life the clarity and the power of water in this spirited baroque music.

Saraswati (2002) by Edward Longstaff (b. 1965)
Invocation I - The Path of Knowledge - The Path of Devotion
Invocation II - The Consorts Dance.
British composer Edward Longstaff was commissioned by Penny Adie to write a piece for 4 Girls 4 Harps, which would receive its premiere at St. James’s Piccadilly in December 2002. Saraswati became an audience favourite, with its minimalistic style opening up a compelling new sound world for four harps. Saraswati was recorded with the outstanding international tabla player Sanju Sahai, who is of eminent percussion lineage and is a direct descendent of Pandit Ram Sahai, the founder of the Benares Gharana. In Saraswati, the authentic sound of Indian tabla accentuates the rhythmic drive of the ’Paths’ and heightens the contrasting effect of the lyrical ‘Invocations' Faithful to the structure of Indian classical music, Longstaff ends Saraswati in a frenzy — the exhilarating ‘Consort’s Dance’! Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, is the patron deity for music and dance and is depicted sitting on a lotus, which represents the supreme reality or truth. She has four arms which symbolise the four aspects of the inner personality of man.

Summertime from ‘Porgy and Bess’ by George Gershwin (1898— 1937)
Transcribed by H. Adie
Gershwin’s compositions show a life-long fascination with French music of the early Twentieth Century. However, many of the composers he applied to study with, such as Ravel and Nadia Boulanger refused to teach him, afraid that rigorous study would ruin his jazz-influenced style. Gershwin considered his 1935 opera Porgy and Bess to be one of his finest works, incorporating a wealth of blues, folk and jazz idioms into the classical art form of opera: The aria Summertime was composed as a spiritual in the style of African American folk music. Subsequently made famous as a jazz standard by singers such as Ella Fitzgerald, Harriet has followed this tradition with an arrangement featuring Chris Marshall on drums and Matt Ridley on double bass.



Producer and Engineer: David Hinitt
Recorded at Christ Church, Southgate, London on 13 and 14 August 2008
Design by Alice Palace:
Photograph by Harleymoon Kemp:

©2009 Arts in Fusion

Album Information

Title:     Fireworks & Fables
Artists: 4 Girls 4 Harps
Instruments:     Harp Quartet
Genre: Classical
Format: CD
Our Ref: A0334
Label: Arts in Fusion
Year: 2009
Origin: UK

Artist Information & Contact Details

Photograph of the Calvert Turner DuoThe musicianship and elegance of the four award-winning harpists that form 4 Girls 4 Harps has captivated audiences around the world. They have performed at international harp festivals and events, in concert halls, theatres, and broadcast on BBC radio and ITV television.

Performing on their full-sized Salvi concert harps and modern pearlescent electric harps, Keziah Thomas, Angharad Wyn Jones, Harriet Adie and Eleanor Turner present entertaining programmes of music encompassing many contrasting genres to delight audiences of all ages.

With music ranging from Handel, Schubert and Debussy to Gershwin, Joplin and Lecuona, the dynamic and virtuosic playing of 4 Girls 4 Harps, and the amazing sound of four harps, is guaranteed to make an impact.



Contact Details 4 Girls 4 Harps

Artists Web Site
Alternatively, for further information about 4 Girls 4 Harps, or if you would like to enquire about availability, please contact
Maureen Phillips
Upbeat Classical Management
PO Box 479

Telephone 01895 259441

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