“Air” – Music of DEBUSSY & TAKEMITSU for Harp, Flute, and Strings – DEBUSSY: Sacred and Profane Dances; Syrinx; Sonata for flute, harp and viola; TAKEMITSU: And Then I Knew ‘Twas Wind; Toward the Sea II; Air for Flute – Yolanda Kondonassis, harp/Joshua Smith, flute/ Cynthia Phelps, viola/ Oberlin 21/Bridget-Michaele Reischl – Telarc CD-80694. 60:24 ***** [Release date: Oct. 28, 08]:
This is the 14th Telarc recording for the most-recorded classical solo harpist in the world. Ms. Kondonassis performs as a soloist in concertos and as a recitalist thruout the world. She also heads the harp departments at both the Cleveland Institute of Music and Oberlin College Conservatory. This CD is a ducidly clever programming idea that has not been done before – matching up the works of these two composers from different eras and different countries who were both impressionists in the way they communicated nature environments thru color and atmosphere. Each had their own distinctive musical language, but they were both fascinated by aspects of the sea, wind, and air – the overall title of the album.
Takemitsu’s Air for solo flute is a fascinating match for Debussy’s Syrinx for solo flute; the Japanese composer said that though he was self-taught he considered Debussy his greatest teacher. The two larger Debussy works open and close the CD; both are favorites of mine and I don’t believe I’ve heard any better performances of either. Takemitsu’s And Then I Knew ‘Twas Wind is scored for flute, viola and harp just as the closing Debussy Sonata. Its title came from a line in an Emily Dickinson poem and the composer explained that its subject was the wind not only in the natural world but also in the soul and mind. His Toward the Sea II has a section set unexpectedly in a New England environment; its three movements are The Night, Moby Dick and Cape Cod. The programmatic aspect is vague, with the work evocative of the sea in Takemitsu’s advanced Zen-like tonal style, similar to Debussy in his La Mer. The excellent Oberlin string orchestra participates in this work, as it does in the opened Sacred and Profane Dances.
Sonics are also excellent, but I see no indication on the jewel box that this CD will be followed by an SACD version as many of the previous Kondonassis albums were – not a good sign for hi-res surround fans. By the way, the harpist walks her talk by tying in with the environmental aspect of this album in donating part of her royalties to organizations devoted to air quality, global warming and similar environmental concerns. She also did this with her previous all-Hovhaness album.
– John Sunier