R. MURRAY SCHAFER (b.1933): Complete Works for Harp - Crown of Ariadne for Harp and Percussion, Theseus for Harp and String Quartet (Orford String Quartet), Harp Concerto (Toronto Symphony Orchestra; Andrew Davis), Wild Bird for Violin and Harp (Jacques Israelievitch [violin]), Tanzlied for Mezzo-Soprano and Harp (Eleanor James [mezzo]), Trio for Flute, Viola and Harp (Trio Verlaine), 4 Songs for Mezzo-Soprano and Harp (James [mezzo], Lori Gemmell [harp]).
Catalogue Number: 12S060
Reference: CMCCD 23316
Description: Schafer's idiom is a very personal, recognisable and effective one, which guarantees approachability through a thorough grounding in tonality, which is then liberally, but never overwhelmingly, embroidered and augmented by the free adoption of techniques borrowed from various branches of modernism, even the avant garde. These works all post-date Schafer's own modernist, highly experimental period. The substantial three-movement concerto from 1987 is the largest work here and contains relatively little in the way of extended methods, occupying an idiom that has somewhat in common with neoclassical Stravinsky and Shostakovich. The work is not short of exhilarating and original orchestration and timbres, and the infectiously rhythmic central scherzo is a delight. It comes between outer movements that blend elements of romanticism and impressionism. Both Theseus and Crown of Ariadne are parts of Schafer's Patria 5, which is based on the myth of Theseus. Microtonal inflections and subtle extended effects add to the palette of very post-romantic storytelling in music, in which sensuous melody and rich harmony both play in important part. Tanzlied is a setting of Nietzsche, and is imbued with a spirit of lush Wagnerian romanticism, while the trio is lyrical and harmonically rich, with characteristics of Debussyan impressionism and the last flowering of romanticism epitomised by early Schoenberg. The vigorous finale is feminiscent of the concerto's scherzo from a quarter-century earlier. Notably, both here and in the songs, also from 2011, there is less experimentalism and a more conventional sense of romantic expression. 2 CDs. Texts included. Judy Loman (harp, percussion).