I heard a recital by harpist Emmanuel Ceysson at Interface on 1/24.  Interface was one of the strangest venues I've ever been to.  It looked like a warehouse, and the seating was odd.  I first sat in a metal chair but after about 45 seconds I had enough of it, it was monumentally uncomfortable.  I moved to a couch and was much happier.

 

Ceysson is the principal harpist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.  I saw a telecast of *Tannhäuser* on PBS a few months ago and Susan Graham interviewed Ceysson during one of the intermissions.  He is totally adorable, and I loved the way he talked about the different types of music that Wagner wrote for the harp.  So when I saw he was doing a recital, why the hell not.

My dear friend Mary Ann Grinde gave me a guided tour of the harp before I left Madison, and let me tell you, that is one peculiar object.  Writing well for the harp enters a whole new realm of "idiomatic," it seems like the harp is nothing but idioms.

 

Here's the program:

 

François Couperin, "Les Barricades mystérieuses"

Albert Zabel, *Faust fantasie,* opus 12

Gabriel Fauré, "Une châtelaine en sa tour," opus 110

Marcel Grandjany, "The Colorado Trail," opus 28

André Caplet, *Deux divertissements*

Félix Godefroid, "Etude de concert in E-flat minor," opus 193

 

The Couperin is the only piece that wasn't written specifically for the harp, it was written for harpsichord.  But it was lovely, it perfectly set the tone for the concert and got the audience warmed up.  The *Faust fantasie* was my favorite piece - - it was opulent and thrilling and Ceysson played it with grandeur and flair.

 

Ceysson delivered all of the hallmarks of French classical music: he played with passion, color, and verve, but also with extraordinary taste.  If there was flashiness (and there was), it was essential flashiness that the composer had written.  I never imagined that I would use the word "chic" to describe a manner of playing, a style of performance, but Ceysson played with great chic.

 

"The Colorado trail" had some surprising and eyebrow-raising harmonic shifts, but he never highlighted them, or worse, winked at them.  He played them straight and showed them as they are.

 

It was a delightful recital and the audience was crazy for him.

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