CD A0401: From Coast to Coast

From Coast to Coast
From Los Angeles to New York
Catrin Finch


CD coverDuring February to March, 2002 I embarked on a tour of the USA, organised for me by Young Concert Artists Inc. in New York. Covering almost 30,000 miles, I spent over 5 weeks playing a total of 24 recitals in 11 States. This CD is based on those recitals. Returning home to Wales I decided to record my American experience as a special memory of the wonderfully warm reception that I received during the tour. Here it is . . . I hope you enjoy it!

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Catrin Finch Profile & index of recordings and sheet music

Track Listing & Audio Samples

J S Bach
1 Prelude from Violin Partita No 3
2 Giga from Violin Partita No 2

Claude Debussy
Pour La Harpe
3 Claire de Lune
4 Reverie
5 Valse Romantique

William Mathias
Santa Fe Suite
6 Landscape
7 Nocturne
8 Sun Dance

Isaac Albeniz
9 Torre Bermeja

Manuel De Falla
10 Spanish Dance No 1

Bedrich Smetana
11 The Moldau

CD Notes & Credits

Sleeve Notes

I can remember vividly the first time I heard Catrin perform. This was in November 1999 at a gala concert in Bangor to celebrate Elinor Bennett’s 25 years as a harp teacher Over 35 of her pupils past and present gathered together to create an unique orchestra of harps. It was an unforgettable evening. But the undoubted highlight was Catrins solo performance - which brought the house down. Everything about her playing created a remarkable impression: a virtuoso technique (with not a foot or finger out of place!), a dazzling range of tonal colours and above all, mature and natural musicality.

A few months later I was honoured to be one of three musicians appointed to nominate a young harpist for the imaginatively-restored position of Harpist to The Prince of Wales. The choice was obvious to me - and happily we all suggested the same name! Catrin has gone on to grace the role with her great gifts and on St.David’s Oay 2002 His Royal Highness extended her appointment for a second term. As I write, Catrin has just completed her studies at the Royal Academy of Music with great distinction. The musical world now lies at her feet.

The first music performed by Catrin as Harpist to The Prince of Wales - at a dinner hosted by Prince Charles at Margam Orangery for the members of National Assembly for Wales on its first anniversary in May 2000 - was the brilliant transcription which opens this disc. It created an immediate frisson on a rather daunting occasion! Unlike his great contemporary Handel, Bach never composed directly for the harp. His suites for lute however are often played on both guitar and harp and the great harpist Marcel Grandjany transcribed for harp a number of movements from Bach’s six sonatas and partitas for solo violin. These unobtrusively flesh out the implied harmonies in the music and pose enormous technical challenges for the performer - in that the harp does not automatically convey the violin’s seamless legato line!

Debussy wrote some of the most memorable and imaginative harp parts of any composer in his incomparable orchestral scores. His Danse sacree et danse profane for harp and strings was composed in 1904 as a commission to show off a new model of harp by the French firm of Pleyel. It is nevertheless surprising that he never composed any works for solo harp - the beautiful Sonata for flute, viola and harp notwithstanding. These three idiomatic transcriptions of piano pieces are therefore valuable compensations and transform the piano’s sonorities into ravishing textural tapestries.

In contrast, William Mathias composed for the harp throughout his career, inspired by partnerships with several great performers -David Watkins (Improvisations), Osian Ellis (Concerto, Sonata), Marisa Robles (Zodiak Trio, Melos), and leuan Jones (revision of Sonata in 1992). The Santa Fe Suite was composed for Caryl Thomas to premiere at London’s Wigmore Hall in 19BB. The work was inspired by a visit to New Mexico when the Santa Fe Symphony played Mathias’s Second Symphony The composer was fascinated by the exotic landscapes and the sight and sounds of small harps in many doorways. The three-movement Suite conveys these impressions - a wiry, brooding Landscape’, hauntingly hypnotic ‘Nocturne’ and exhilarating ‘Sun Dance’ full of tangy Spanish rhythms. This finale was inspired by the tribal Shaman’s dance of rebirth and renewal. Catrin’s first teacher Elinor Bennett poignantly recalls how the composer - a few weeks before he died in July 1992 - urged on her performance to him at his home on Anglesey by dancing vigorously around the harp, his weakened physical state as if forgotten and conquered by the power of the spirit.

Spanish dance rhythms naturally dominate the works which follow by Isaac Albeniz and Manuel de Falla. These exuberant piano works are models of their kind but somehow seem even more suited - in these stylishly effective transcriptions - to the harp and its distant gypsy origins. The genuine whiff of Rioja comes through in every bar!

Smetana’s patriotic cycle of orchestral tone-poems Ma Vlast (My Country] stands as a dominating landmark in the history of Czech music. Vltava (the Moldau) is a stirring portrait of the great national river as it journeys through the woods and meadows of Bohemia -from its source, to the great city of Prague, and beyond. This flowing transcription captures the ebb and flow of the music uncannily and it makes a moving and rousing conclusion to this recital.

The experience of working with Elinor Bennett and Hywel Wigley to produce this recording by Catrin Finch - in the secluded splendour of Hafod Church, deep in the Rheidol Valley, Ceredigion - was a great joy and privilege. The future of great international harp playing is assuredly safe in her hands.

Geraint Lewis - June 2002



Thanks to Enfys, Hafod Church, Elinor Bennett and Geraint Lewis for production, writing the programme notes end support. Thanks also to Hazel Thomas and Tony Unsworth, Sir Kyffin Williams, the Victor Salvi Foundation, Young Concert Artists lnc. [New York), and of course . . . family and friends, as always.

For Hywi . . . with all my love xx


Recorded at Hafod Church, Pontrhydygroes. April 2002
Produced by Kissan Productions with assistance by Pynci
Cover Image - Rebecca Kelly
Photograph of Catrin - David Hiscock
Pre-press Artwork - Patricia Moffett
Kissan Productions 2002

Dan y Coed, Gwaelod y Garth, Caerdydd

Made in Wales

Album Information

Instruments: Harp
Genre: Classical
Format: CD
Our Ref: A0401
MCPS: Kissan001
Label: Kissan Production
Year: 2002
Origin: Wales (UK)