Chanson dans la nuit - Music for Viola and Harp


Music that has long been familiar often feels newly discovered through the simple shift of colors, textures and timbre. This, of course, is the magical art of orchestration, but this same sense of transformation can be accomplished by simply transcribing music from its original, familiar setting to one that is completely different, unique, and effective. This is what we have here in a program of, for the most part, transcriptions for viola and harp. The album titled Chanson dans la Nuitis performed by violist Jitka Hosprová and harpist Katerina Englichová - a combination of instruments that is unquestionably unique and effective.

The works on this CD span nearly 300 years from the Five Old French Dances by Marin Marais and the Sarabande from a Bach Partita to familiar and much loved pieces by Debussy, Fauré and Kreisler. The combination of the smoky-toned and sorrowful sounding viola with the crystalline and delicate harp is splendid! It is perhaps more successful than viola with piano because when both of those instruments are played with passion, the viola can easily be lost. This is not a recording for the fact-checking, authentic performance practice purist. Since the harp itself in any form close to the instrument played on this recording was patented around 1800, anything played on it cannot help but sound as though it came out of the Romantic period. That is the case for the Baroque and Classical period pieces heard on this recording, but for me, these were some of the most evocative tracks on the disc.

So does this work? That depends completely on your point of view, and what you might be looking for when you put this disc in your player for the first time. But I think that any music lover would be moved by the beautiful rendition of Fritz Kreisler’s Siciliano heard here, or by Ms. Hosprova’s soaring viola (yes, viola, soaring) in the Prélude La fille aux cheveux de lin by Claude Debussy. This is an hour’s worth of immensely pure, moving and beautiful music. As always with my recommendations, if you buy it from HBDirect and don’t like it, I’ll take it back.