Maria Graf A Recital
The harp, one of the oldest and most ubiquitous of all instruments, attained its present form in France, grace a Sebastian Erard (its patentee in 1810), since when it has enjoyed love affairs with many French composers. Like the guitar, it is a highly idiosyncratic instrument; most of its original repertory has come from its players—those who best understand what the instrument can and cannot do—but many French composers who have not played it have written gratefully for it, or have produced works that adapt naturally to it. Of those represented on this disc, only Tournier was a harpist, and only the pieces by Ravel and Debussy were not originally written for the harp—though they sound as though they might have been.
Graf is quite simply the best harpist I have heard in recent years, sensitive to every nuance, able to produce a wide dynamic range without intrusive mechanical noises, and in command of a vivid palette of tone-colour, often separately applied to the two hands. The music is above-averagely interesting and Caplet has a few shocks for anyone who believes harp music to be bland, soothing and soporific—none of which it ever becomes in Graf's hands. Recording and performance qualities are well matched.'