A trio of our high-end concert models – our Oriane, Elysée and Trianon – has left Mouzeil in the manner of a European Grand Tour. First up is the new Oriane for Anneleen Lenaerts, now of course at the Vienna Philharmonic. We’re loving this video of her playing Granados on her new harp.
At more or less the same time, an Elysée has travelled to Düsseldorf, home of concert harpist Annamaria Gergely. Annamaria is herself fantastically well-travelled: Hungarian, born in Romania, before continuing her studies in Brussels and Holland. Her performing career has ranged from the United States to Tehran and even Africa.
It is, as I was reflecting before the Ksenia Erdely Competition, still not all that common to find artists with in-depth experience of both the Russian and the Western European schools. Bridging this gap is one of the key reasons the HarpMasters Academy was founded in Switzerland in 2007, and indeed Annamaria is a board member for the project.
“I don’t think anybody disputes the artistic interest to be found in discovering at least something about both sides of the former Iron Curtain”, Annamaria remarks, “but it’s important to recognize the extent of the limitations still put on some harp scenes for financial reasons. Politically, you can travel almost wherever you like now, but none of that is any good if you can’t afford a plane ticket, for yourself or for a visiting artist. One of my projects for the next season is to return to Romania with lever harps and to do some teaching work with children. The small harp is still hardly found in Romania – everyone grows up practicing on beaten-up harps belonging to the music school. This is still the case almost everywhere in the East, of course. It’s amazing to consider that stunning artists like Maria Krushevskaya and Vasilisa Luchevskaya all grow up on harps like this.
You ask yourself, if they can play like that on those harps, what on earth are they going to do on good ones? It’s not a situation you can wave a magic wand over, but I really hope that the instrument situation in the East will gradually improve and the communications with the West get easier, for everyone’s benefit. I’m blown away by the difference my new harp has made to me. I feel like I’ve found my harp, and it’s started quite a unique relationship. It’s prompted me to work even more on solo projects and record my first solo CD.”
Speaking of CDs: the third harp musketeer is a Trianon for Annie Lavoisier. Annie, professor of harp at the Conservatoire Royal in Brussels, will not need much introduction to many of you, but I would like to flag up her work with Oxalys – a wonderful, flexible line-up chamber group who focus on post-Enlightenment European music.
Their discography includes some of the most interesting harp chamber music recordings I’ve seen for ages, with exquisitely tasteful balances of famous and less well-known, related repertoire, and intriguing chamber arrangements of larger-scale works. A really great example of what can be done with a flexible chamber ensemble, highly recommended!