While the harp is often associated with angels and soft, floating, soothing tones, it can also produce an extremely wide range of tone colour, dynamics and even sound effects. The harp can be loud, strong and forceful, and can also sound like a guitar, a drum, a whistle, thunder, and even a popcorn popper! In fact, it is as if an entire orchestra of sounds are available on the single instrument. When two harps come together, the possibilities are even greater, and the pieces on this recording demonstrate that brilliantly.
Impressionisme is the title and the theme of this endeavor. The compositions are from or inspired by the impressionist period. Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel were fascinated by the images of the impressionist painters of their time and their compositions were inspired by the impressionist art. The pieces by Marcel Tournier and Enrique Granados were also written during the impressionist period.
The impressionism theme is continued in that several of the pieces were not originally written for two harps and have been transcribed. These transcribed pieces are an impressionist version of the original composition.
Born in France, Caroline Marie Léonardelli graduated with first prize in harp from the Paris Conservatoire under the guidance of Jacqueline Borot at the age of 18. Caroline went on to further study with Judy Loman through the McGill University School of Music. During her youth Caroline studied in France with Lily Laskine, one of the most celebrated harpists of the 20th century.
Caroline Léonardelli is principal harp with the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra. Caroline has a number of music projects in progress including Panache with mezzo soprano Julie Nesrallah, and A Conte de Noel feature Benjamin Britten's A Ceremony of Carols.
Caroline Lizotte began her music studies in Quebec in both classical harp and piano. Caroline graduated from the Quebec Music Conservatory in 1992 and continued her studies with a scholarship from the renowned Eastman School of Music.
Caroline is a member of the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, and is Principal Harpist with the l'Orchestre Trois-Rivières.
"These are performances of sensitivity and grace, exhibiting a wide range of subtle colours and an excellent sense of ensemble."
Daniel Foley, WholeNote Magazine
April 2005 www.harpmusicottawa.com/reviews.html
Impressionisme, the debut recording from the Canadian harp duo of Caroline Léonardelli and Caroline Lizotte, offers a distinctively Parisian view of the repertoire for harp duet. The crown jewels of this collection are transcriptions of works by Debussy and Ravel. Both compositions were originally conceived for piano four hands and later cast in orchestral versions. Claude Debussy's Petite Suite is one of his most engagingly melodic compositions and lends itself well to the harp in this fine arrangement which makes effective use of antiphonal exchanges between the instruments. With the exception of the chorale-like finale, the arrangement of Maurice Ravel's enchanting Ma Mere l'Oye (Mother Goose Suite) is also surprisingly effective. The startling inclusion of percussive effects (strokes from a gong and antique cymbals) in this work is a clever touch that might seem more convincing to me recorded at a greater distance, reflecting their actual placement of the orchestral stage. Generally however the recording quality is excellent throughout.
Also on offer is an elegant set of Four Preludes crafted in the luxurious Paris Conservatoire style by the eminent harpist Marcel Tournier. Another distinguished alumnus of the Conservatoire, Bernard Andrès, is represented by the delightful Parvis, an engaging carnival of dance rhythms performed with considerable panache. Pierick Houdy's Pour Deux Harpes is uncommonly chromatic, an effect not normally associated with the harp due to its inherently diatonic nature but achieved here through an ingenious manipulation of harmonics. Enrique Granados' well-known Spanish Dance Number 5 dates from a time the composer was living in Paris and is heard in an evocative arrangement by the innovative Carlos Salzedo. These are performances of sensitivity and grace, exhibiting a wide range of subtle colours and an excellent sense of ensemble.