The Atlantic Harp Duo’s latest program is infused with Latin flair. Expanding upon the Spanish selections that have become a signature part of their regular repertoire — works by Enrique Granados, Isaac Albéniz, and Ernesto Lecuona — the duo has now prepared new transcriptions, including Manuel de Falla’s set of four Spanish Pieces, and an arrangement of Luigi Boccherini’s Introduction and Fandango. The highlight of this project is an ambitious transcription, by Christophe Saunière, of Maurice Ravel’s boisterous Alborada del Gracioso. This program, with the help of a few percussion instruments, mixes the rhythmic excitement of Spanish music with its sensual melodies.
To commemorate the bicentennial of composer Frederic Chopin (1810-1849), the Atlantic Harp Duo consecrated the year 2010 to producing a narrated concert of Chopin’s life. Their careful selection of original harp duets and sensitive transcriptions of piano works, woven together by their elegant and refined text, takes the listener through the musical culture of Chopin’s era. Born in Poland, but later exiled due to political upheaval in his country, Chopin settled in 19th-century France, where he lived a passionate relationship with novelist George Sand.
Atlantic Harp Duo went on tour with the program over the summer, performing at such venues as the Chopin Park Auditorium in Chicago and Smith Music Hall at the University of Illinois. The tour culminated in a performance to close the 3rd International Harp Festival in Katowice, Poland.
They recorded the entire program at the Foellinger Great Hall of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, in Urbana, IL, and self-produced their premier CD, now available for purchase at major online music distributors. Visit “CD Release” for more information.
As part of the Summer Music Academy 2010 in Villecroze, France, the Atlantic Harp Duo collaborated with soprano Sandrine Sutter to perform and record the premier of Franck Villard’s Ariadne Theseo for two harps and high voice. The lyrics are excerpted from Ovid’s Heroides — a collection of poems written in the form of letters — sung in the original Latin. Here, Sandrine embodies the voice of Ariadne, the daughter of Minos, King of Crete. Her heart keens with grief when she awakes to find herself abandoned on the island of Naxos, by her lover, Theseus, who she had helped to destroy the Minotaur.
But grief allowed no time for languor. I was roused by it, and roused, I called to Theseus at the top of my voice. ‘Where are you going?’ I shouted ‘turn back, wicked Theseus! Work your ship! You’re without one of your number!’ So I called. When my voice failed I beat my breast instead: my blows were interspaced with my words. If you could not hear at least you might still see: I made wide signals with my outstretched hands. I hung a white cloth on a tall branch, hoping those who’d forgotten would remember me. Now you were lost to sight. Then finally I wept: till then my cheeks were numb with grief. (…full text)
—Ovid, English translation by A. S. Kline
(Recording and sound engineering for Ariadne Theseo done by Alain Michon)
In 2009, the Atlantic Harp Duo played in a musical, theatrical production of fables by Jean de la Fontaine, directed by Alain de Bock, with original music by Damien Luce. The production made its debut in February at the Musée Carnavalet and later ran for four weeks in Paris, during the month of September, first at the Théâtre du Tambour Royal and then at the Théâtre de Nesle. As a result of this project, the Atlantic Harp Duo welcomes a new addition to the harp duo repertoire:
Serenade for two Harps — Damien Luce
- Sarabande and Sicilienne
- Ostinato – the serpent
- Marche – the wolf
- Humoresque – the rat
- Tarantelle – man
(Recording and sound engineering for La Fontaine selections done by Damien Luce)
Based in Paris, France, timeless source of artistic inspiration and cradle of the modern harp, the Atlantic Harp Duo originally built their repertoire on a foundation of pieces by the great French composers and by contemporary composers and harpists. The wealth of variety that is contained within the French classical music tradition makes the harp sound throughout all its possible colors.
(Recording and sound engineering for French Music selections done by Elsa Desjardins.)