“Anne-Sophie Bertrand, concert harp” – Katzenberger Music Productions multichannel SACD + bound book of notes – Release 02

Anne-Sophie Bertrand, concert harp” [Playlist follows] – Katzenberger Music Productions, Germany multichannel SACD + bound book of notes – Release 02, 69:40 *****:

Not much artwork on this bound book holding an SACD except the rear end of a cat, the same for all of the first releases from Katzenberger. (Some of the three are Pure Audio Blu-ray.) The detailed note booklet in the book has plenty of information on the harpist, the concert harp and the music. Anne-Sophie Bertrand is Franco-American and was born in Paris. She has been a soloist with the symphony orchestra in Frankfurt am Main since 2000, and is committed to contemporary music. In this excellent program of works for solo concert harp, she gives the world premiere of Jean Francaix’s Suite pour harp. Her web site has links to music videos of New Age performers and vegetarian recipes.

You can get an idea of her performing style by viewing two YouTube videos which are currently available. Both are with classical saxophonist Michel Supéra. The first (mislabled) is Debussy’s Reverie and the second is Ravel’s Habanera-Duo for harp and sax.

The book is both in German and English and has some gorgeous photos of concert harps.  There is an essay titled The Harp – An Age-Old But Time and Again Modern Musical Instrument, as well as one titled Harp Music from Three Centuries.  The E minor Lute Suite by Bach is a fine arrangement for harp, and more interesting than the lute original. The important concert harp performer/composer Marcel Grandjany adapted the Handel Prelude and Toccata which Anne-Sophie Bertrand has on the program. The eight movements of the Francaix Suite pour Harpe are a delight. The concert concludes with the Prélude Cahier II by Debussy. It is gorgeously recorded with the very highest standards.

The concert harp is even more difficult to properly record than the piano. I don’t believe I’ve heard another solo harp hi-res effort that quite meets this level of sonics. The additional test tracks offer an opportunity to discern the differences between mono playback and stereo.  This Production 02 is offered as a three-channel mono download, playable on multichannel audio systems. (I suspect something may be getting confused in translation here.) The notes say an ultimate listening experience is offered when using three identical hi-fi sound-transducing speakers placed remotely from reflecting surfaces in the room. The two preludes by Prokofiev and Debussy make a most enjoyable conclusion to the concert. Altogether a really high end recording, but is it worth the cost in the U.S. of $62?


Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909):
01 Suite Espagnole Nr. 5 “Asturias“ (Leyenda) 6:34
Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924):
02 Impromptu pour la Harpe op. 86 9:12
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750):
Suite for Lute in e-moll, BWV 996
03 Preludio 2:36
04 Allemande 2:25
05 Courante 1:56
06 Sarabande 3:53
07 Bourrée 1:14
08 Gigue 1:37
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809-1847):
09 Präludium op. 35 Nr. 1 2:49
Georg Friedrich Händel (1685-1759):
Präludium und Toccata (adaption by M. Grandjany)
10 Präludium 3:21
11 Toccata 1:59
Jean Françaix (1912-1997): Suite pour Harpe
12 Preludio 1:27
13 Capriccio 1:27
14 Sogno 2:37
15 Sarabande 2:53
16 Rondino 0:56
17 Elégie 3:33
18 Finale 4:18
19 Epilogue 2:41
Elias Parish Alvars (1808-1849):
20 Introduction, Cadenza and Rondo 6:29
Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953):
21 Prélude op 12 Nr. 7 2:27
Claude Debussy (1862-1918):
22 Prélude Cahier II Nr. 5 (“Bruyères“) 3:07
23-24 Special Tracks to set up audio system

—John Sunier

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