Back in mono LP days, one of my favorites of the Mercury Living Presence series was Carlos Salzedo’s own recording of some of these same selections. He was the strongest advocate of the concert harp that music has had, similar to Pablo Casals with the cello and Segovia with the guitar. He was not only a fine composer and harpist but also a pianist, mentor, author and champion of new music. The repertory for the concert harp was expanded greatly due to his efforts.
Ms. Kondonassis has recorded a dozen harp CDs for Telarc, and in fact one of the previous ones was titled Scintillation after the same Salzedo work heard here. It has a wonderfully exotic flavor that reminds me of some of Charles Griffes piano pieces. I remember in college radio work using it as incidental music in a sci-fi radio drama. Kondonassis studied at the Salzedo Harp Colony starting at nine years old and is now head of the harp departments at both Oberlin and the Cleveland Institute of Music. She is undoubtedly one of the world’s leading harpists.
Salzedo created many entirely new sounds on the concert harp, and used them innovatively in his works. He also often mixed a Latin flavor into his pieces, as heard in some of the dance selections in this program. The fact that these are all solo harp works except for the final Sonata displays the wide variety of sounds that this instrument is capable of. The concert harp is not an easy instrument to record properly, but of course Telarc has it under control. If you play this at a goodly level, you may find you have some pesky resonances in your listening room that are not under control.
– John Sunier