A1008-CD: Dance of the Blessed Spirits

Dance of the Blessed Spirits
Nora Shulman (flute) & Judy Loman (harp)

CD CoverRomantic Music for Flute and Harp. Ever since the Renaissance imagined an Arcadian paradise of rustic pan-pipes and sweet-plucked Orphean lyres, the fancifully associative sound and visual interplay of flute and harp has drawn composers and arrangers, with Mozart's alluring duo concerto written in Paris in 1776 a gracious example of the combination at its most expressively sensuous.

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Track Listing and Audio Samples

  Christoph Willibald Gluck  
1 Dance of the Blessed Spirits from Orfeo ed Euridice 4:48
  Gabriel Fauré  
2 Sicilienne Op.78 3:42
3 Berceuse Op. 16 2:52
  Maria Theresia von Paradis  
4 Sicilienne 2:24
  Edward Elgar  
5 Chanson de Matin Op. 15 No. 2 3:17
  Claude Debussy  
6 Arabesque No. 1 4:12
  Erik Satie  
7 Gymnopédie No. 1 2:58
8 Gymnopédie No. 2 2:08
9 Gymnopédie No. 3 2:22
  JS Bach/ Charles Gounod  
10 Ave Maria 3:02
  JS Bach  
11 Siciliano from Sonata No. 2 in E flat major, BWV 1031 2:30
  Georges Bizet  
12 Intermezzo from Carmen 2:32
  Maurice Ravel  
13 Pavane pour une infante défunte 6:12
  Edward Elgar  
14 Salut d'Amour, Op 12 3:25
  Edvard Grieg  
15 Morning from Peer Gynt Suite No. 1 3:42
16 Solveig's Song from Peer Gynt Suite No. 2 3:42
  Claude Debussy  
17 Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune 9:44
  Luigi Boccherini  
18 Minuetto from String Quartet, Op. 11 No. 5 (G275) 2:53
  François-Joseph Gossec  
19 Tambourin 1:32
  Total playing time 68:34

About this CD

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All text courtesy of Naxos - for further information please visit www.naxos.com

Dance of the Blessed Spirits
Romantic Music for Flute and Harp

Ever since the Renaissance imagined an Arcadian paradise of rustic pan-pipes and sweet-plucked Orphean lyres, the fancifully associative sound and visual interplay of flute and harp has drawn composers and arrangers, with Mozart's alluring duo concerto written in Paris in 1776 a gracious example of the combination at its most expressively sensuous.

Celebrated in many guises, an in performances from period instrument to symphonic, Rachmaninov to Toscanini, Gluck's Dance of the Blessed Spirits comes from a ballet sequence in Act II of Orfeo ed Euridice (1762 version) - supreme among the master-acts of European operatic tradition.

Debussy's misty Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune, written between 1892 and 1994, freely illustrates a symbolist poem by Mallarmé telling of the desires and dreams of a faun in the heat of a summer afternoon. Finely imaged, delicately balanced salon music of ethereal perfume, the popular First Arabesque comes from a set of two for piano published in Paris in 1891.

Gentleman and seer, artist without ambition, Fauré was a pupil of Saint-Saëns, organist at the Madeleine, Director of the Paris Conservatoire, and Ravel's teacher. His Sicilienne, for cello and piano, written in March 1893, became famous through the incidental music for the 1898 English production of Maeterlinck's Pelléas et Mélisande, in which context (Enti-'acte before Act II, the fountain scene where Mélisande loses her ring) it was heard in an orchestration by Koechlin highlighting flute and harp. Much transcribed, the earlier Berceuse for violin and piano (1878-79) is a gentle boudoir miniature, redolent of Chopin. Paris first heard it on St Valentine's Day 1880.

Known to the Mozart family, the Viennese-born composer, pianist, organist and singer Maria Theresia von Paradis was the blind god-daughter of the Habsburg Empress Maria Theresa. Popularised in the 1930s, the E flat Sicilienne (one of her few surviving pieces) essays a favourite type of eighteenth-century pastoral aria in 6/8 time.

Elgar's Chanson de matin, for violin and piano, completed on 6th March 1899, belongs to a "fresh-as-dew, bruised innocence" brand of delicacy quintessentially Anglo-Saxon-Empire in flavour. Likewise Salut d'Amour (1888), dedicated to his wife Caroline Alice, is a period tea-time piece to grace only the finest pianofortes.

The "Picasso of music", Satie, son of a Norman Catholic father and a Scottish Protestant mother, was one of the most eccentric yet far-seeing figures of his day - Saint-Saëns (bought him a lunatic, Jean Cocteau a visionary. Erotically unfolding, the Gymnopédies, written for piano in 1888, spiritually evoke the rituals and dances of naked boys from ancient Sparta. Intuitive, chaste, hypnotic miracles, not so much heard as overheard, it has been said they have been the inspiration of generations from Debussy to Blood, Sweat and Tears.

Derived from both an instrumental setting and a secular song to words by Lamartine, Gounod's Ave Maria, published for voice and piano in 1859, was a mélodie religicuse, as popular with the Victorians as the Second Empire and Civil War America. Equally satisfying romantic sentimentality and baroque worship, Gounod cleverly grafted his melody onto the first C major Prelude from J.S. Bach's Forty Eight Preludes and Fugues.

Bach, the provincial, backward-looking Cantor of St Thomas's, Leipzig, was musically valued but largely forgotten by the galant/classical succession of the eighteenth century. It was left to the nineteenth to rediscover and the twentieth to understand him. The Siciliano, well known in the romanticised piano transcriptions of Alkan and Kempff, comes from the E flat Sonata No. 2 for flute and continuo, written in Leipzig before 9th September 1734.

Scanning Bizet's greatest posthumous success, Carmen, Nietzsche thought it perfect. Yet its premi6re at the Paris Opéra-Comique, on 3rd March 1875, was a failure. The Intermezzo from the First Orchestral Suite corresponds to the Entr'acte from the beginning of Act III. In a smugglers' wild mountain cave, Carmen the gypsy girl, is taunting Don José, a corporal of dragoons, and thinking of Escamillo the toreador. The cards foretell her impending death.

Suggestive of courtly lament imagined in the style of a grave Latin renaissance dance, dedicated to the American-born Parisian society hostess Princess Edmond de Polignac, the Pavane pour une Infante défunte, composed for piano in 1899, is more allusive than programmatic. Its exquisitely turned phrases and modal cadences belie Ravel's exaggeration that he never had ideas, only random notes.

To show the scenery, life, people, history and folk poetry of his country, to write for his time and place, was all Norwegian Grieg ever wanted to do. He left it to Bach, Mozart and Beethoven, he said, to create for eternity. His incidental score (1874-75) for an Oslo production of Ibsen's five-act Peer Gynt, the timeless tale of a country boy who has wild adventures, goes to Morocco, suffers shipwreck, and as an old man returns home where his childhood sweetheart still awaits him, was composed in response to a request from the playwright. Our two numbers come from Act IV: the orchestral prelude, Morning and the tenth scene, Solveig's Song, shining "like a sparkling clear and fine little star-flower in the midst of Eastern luxuriance".

Principal architect of Italian instrumental music during the classical period, Boccherini from Lucca, a cellist, was composer and virtuoso di camera to the Infante of Spain, the chamber composer, perhaps in absentia to Friedrich Wilhelm II of Prussia. Music of powdered etiquette and faded adornment, the posthumously much transcribed Minuetto comes from his E major Quintet No. 8 for two violins, viola and two cellos (1771), published in Paris.

"Democratizer of art", Gossec, a Walloon peasant, introduced the first ever Haydn symphony to France, directed the Concert Spirituel and Opera, identified with the Republican cause, and in 1795 was appointed first professor of composition on the founding of the Paris Conservatoire. His catchy Tambourin for fife and drum (pipe and tabor) acknowledges a species of rhythmically "swinging" French character-piece reputedly based on Provenqal folk-dance.

Album Information

Title: Dance of the Blessed Spirits
Instruments: Flute and Harp
Genre: Classical
Format: Audio CD
Our Ref: A1008-CD
MCPS: 8.554166
Label: Naxos
Year: 1997
Origin: EU
Composer(s) Various - see above
Artist(s): Judy Loman (harp) Nora Shulman (flute)

About the Artists

Nora Shulman
The American flautist Nora Shulman joined the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in 1974 and has served as principal flautist since 1986. Born in Los Angeles, she studied at California State University, Northridge, and served as an Associate Fellow at the Berkshire Music Center in Tanglewood and as co-principal flute with the Aspen Chamber Symphony at the Aspen Festival. As a soloist she has appeared with many orchestras, including the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the National Arts Centre Orchestra and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. She is on the teaching faculty of Toronto University and is active in chamber music and in recording.

Judy Loman See also Artist Profile on Creighton's Collection
Judy Loman was a pupil of Carlo Salzedo at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and has been principal harpist since 1960 with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, with which she has appeared as a soloist in Canada, the United States of America and Europe. She has also appeared as a soloist with major orchestras internationally, as well as in recitals and master-classes. She has recorded frequently and successfully and has received the Canadian Juno Award for best classical recording and the Canada Council's Grand Prix du Disque. In addition to her international career as a performer, Judy Loman is Professor of Harp at the University of Toronto and at McGill University and is on the faculty of the Royal Conservatory in Toronto. She has served on the juries of important international competitions, notably in the United States and in Israel.

All text courtesy of Naxos - for further information please visit www.naxos.com

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