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Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Magdalena Hoffman, Nightscapes for Harp

An excellent harpist is not so much a common thing as a treasure. So as I listen again to Magdalena Hoffman and her album Nightscapes for Harp (Deutsch Grammophon 486 1724) I recognize just how accomplished a harpist she is. The program consists of some 18 brief but rewarding pieces for the instrument, spanning the Romantic period through to more current times. So we enjoy  evocative works from Chopin, Respighi, Pizzetti, Britten, Field, Penie, Clara Schumann, Tournier, Fred Hersch, Damase. Understandably some works are adapted from the original piano part, others were meant for the harp from the first, but all sound eminently idiomatic and gorgeous in Magdalena's very capable hands.

Throughout Ms. Hoffmann's technical and interpretive prowess is at the forefront. Sometimes only naturally you recognize in the arrangement of piano pieces for harp the original right hand melodic and left hand accompanying figures, and then otherwise we hear a composer's idea of the harp in its own right, a kind of orchestra of its own at times, an intimate chamber expression other times.. Either way Ms. Hoffmann phrases and elocutes magnificently throughout.

The "Nightscape" thematics are not an afterthought but rather built into the fashioning of the program and its execution. So we get Nocturnes and other pieces, music of mystery and magic, of heightened meditative and soaringly dream-like reveries.

As the harpist says in the liners, "My instrument creates a special for this nocturnal intimacy, and also for the fantastical and magical. There are good reasons why the harp is often used in orchestral works to evoke the unearthly and the supernatural. [On this album] I wanted  to use the harp to tell different nocturnal stories, to dance through the night and dream the night away."

In this poetic aim Ms. Hoffmann succeeds admirably. There is magic and dreams from start to finish. I recommend this strongly for all who seek an otherworldly musical state. Bravo!


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