Debussy; Glière; Mozart Harp Concertos
Mozart’s Flute and Harp Concerto is here given an unusually lively performance with Paul Watkins and the ECO. Yet the Glière and Debussy items also emerge at their freshest, very well recorded to bring out the crispness of ensemble.
This performance of Glière’s Concerto has made me revise my earlier impressions of it as a rather dull work. The themes may not match those of Glière’s contemporary, Rachmaninov, but each movement is well crafted. The result is tuneful and passionate in the extended first movement, easily lyrical in the second. The finale relies on themes with a folk flavour, culminating in an excitingly brisk coda.
Debussy’s Danses were commissioned for a competition promoting the development of the chromatic harp, one which eliminated the need for complex pedal movements. The instrument’s unforeseen disadvantages quickly put paid to its chances, though these two evocative pieces emerge effectively when played on the conventional modern harp.
The Mozart brings in the distinguished flautist William Bennett and the result is a delight. This account of the work is light-hearted and full of fun, and warmly songful in the central slow movement. The technical problems are brushed aside and the pure joy of Mozart at his most carefree comes over exceptionally well. It perfectly crowns a disc splendidly celebrating the artistry of Claire Jones.