A new and quite spectacular CD is the latest release on Cala Records. The brainchild of conductor Geoffrey Simon and harp player Isabelle Perrin, The London Harp Sound features sixteen of Europe’s top harpists—playing in ensemble!
“Participating in this CD was surprising. I had not imagined how much fun it would be to play in a group of sixteen harpists, like a team, recording works that appeared at first sight to be utterly improbable for this ensemble. And the end result is really a success. Many thanks to Isabelle and Geoffrey for this happy adventure!” Ghislaine Petit-Volta
The London Harp Sound is the newest addition to The London Sound Series, a popular range of massed single-instrument recordings from Cala Records. For example, The London Horn Sound is the world’s best-selling French horn CD, ever. Virtuosity is at the heart of the concept, and The London Harp Sound is no exception. The arrangements are, to be honest, really difficult and the musicians all have to be top players in order to show off what each instrument can do in ways you never dreamed were possible.
“Although hard to play, each programme, including The London Harp Sound, is designed to be readily accessible to the listener—that is, to people who haven’t necessarily had years of private music lessons”, explains Geoffrey Simon, artistic director and conductor of The London Sound Series. “But ‘accessibility’ so often seems to be synonymous with musical dumbing-down—something which is not only patronising, but, I feel, totally unnecessary. Our recordings of large, single-instrument ensembles are meant to be fun and tuneful—they each include a wide-ranging selection of classical and popular music—while also displaying the best musicianship and in no way compromising the inner essence of what we do.
“For example, in The London Harp Sound we wanted to show how the harp is capable of producing singing, legato melodic lines. This is not something which it is famous for, and not something that is easy to achieve on the instrument. But it IS possible! That’s why an arrangement of the Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune was included, and in fact placed at the very start of the CD. Could anything be more of a challenge to recreate on the harp than that extraordinary solo flute beginning?”