SACD Number: Telarc Surround Hybrid SACD-60581
The cover booklet for this new recording features a picture of a beautiful woman with a harp, presumably Yolanda Kondonassis. Whether her straight-on picture is pensive, sultry or romantic is open to personal interpretation. Obviously aimed squarely at harp aficionados, she does not disappoint. It would be just as logical to title the recording as easy listening instead of romantic. One should relax the listener; the other should possibly lead to a bit of stimulation, mental or otherwise.
The recording begins with a personal favorite of mine, the almost hauntingly beautiful "Musetta's Waltz" from Puccini's La Boheme as transcribed by Kondonassis. Two of the other selections are transcriptions by her; others were written for the harp and are not nearly as well known to most music lovers. The remaining choice here is a transcription by the well known harpist, Grandjany, of Ernesto Lecuona's very popular "Malaguena" easily the most energetic piece on this mainly romantic or easy listening recording.
Yolanda has been described in the New York Times as a harpist with "powerful playing and musicianly energy". As a concerto soloist, recitalist and recording artist she has won a great deal of critical acclaim. An unusual and very interesting recording she released three years ago was an all Hovhaness disc. On this recording she has little opportunity to showcase her aforementioned abilities. That will not deter lovers of well-played romantic harp music.
The recording seems to have captured the typical sound of a harp being played in a reasonably large sized room. The radiation pattern is so wide spread that the atmospheric recording does not become very significantly more realistic in the multi-channel surround layer of the recording. Recommended highly for harp aficionados and a matter of personal taste for others.