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Transatlantiques - Bertrand

Transatlantiques - Bertrand

Ars Produktion  ARS 38 333

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Instrumental


Works by Tailleferre, Ravel, Salzedo, Rachmaninov, Hindemith, Carter, Bartok, Tansman, Faure

Anne-Sophie Bertrand (harp)

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Review by Adrian Quanjer - December 13, 2022

The harp is an instrument of choice for women. On a list of ‘best harpists’ (however subjective the listing may be), there are only seven male players among the first fifty! A fair number are employed by symphony orchestras, like Anne-Sophie Bertrand, Solo Harpist with the Frankfurt Radio Orchestra (hr-Sinfonieorchester), Germany. However, with this new recording, she demonstrates that apart from being a much-appreciated teacher, she, like only a handful of her colleagues, features high on the list of soloists as well.

The title ‘Transatlantique’ for this new release should not surprise anyone. Born in France, teaching at the Akademie für Tonkunst in Darmstadt, Germany, the Royal Academy of Music in London, UK, and having a close connection with Indiana, USA, Anne-Sophie is a kind of trans-Atlantic globetrotter. With a reference to the trans-Atlantic passenger traffic, she connects composers on either side having used these services to justify her choice of works.

They span a period of around one and a half centuries and are selected from composers of different musical signature, including those that have been influenced by the blues. It allows the listener to get a far-reaching impression of what Anne-Sophie has to offer to the harp-loving community. Adding that Anne-Marie did all the arrangements herself, we may conclude that she is a versatile omnipotent artist indeed.

The booklet makes no mention of her instrument, but by the looks of it, we may assume that Bertrand Plays the Chromatic Harp. Listening to her elegant and delicate playing on such a beautiful-sounding instrument gave me over an hour of artistic pleasure, albeit that depending on one’s personal preference not everything in such a varied programme can evoke the same emotion with everyone. That said, I particularly liked her arrangement of Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances, preserving its folkloristic witty character. Pure joy!

Of special interest is, furthermore, the inclusion of 'Variations sur un Thème dans le style ancien', a lovely work by the French composer Carlos Salzedo, a prominent harpist of his time. Popular with many harpists, including Lavinia Meijer (RBCD Chanel Classics 2008) with whom I compared. Anne-Sophie’s rendition is just as warm and brimming with tonal colours, but comes to fuller Hi-Res bloom in the wonderful acoustics of the recording venue: Kulturzentrum Immanuel, Wuppertal, Germany. Not least with the technical and musical insight of the recording engineer, Manfred Schumacher.

Like most music lovers, I have a number of favourite classical harp players, like Lavinia Meijer from the Netherlands, Anneleen Leenaerts from Belgium, and of course, Marielle Nordmann from France, to which I’ve now added the Franco-American harpist, Anne-Sophie Bertrand. But please note that my list is not exhaustive and that, for instance, Loreena McKennitt and Orla (Orlagh) Fallon are equally close to my heart for their Celtic-style music. And maybe, looking at the logo on the cover page, Anne-Sophie can do that as well!

Blangy-le-Château, Normandie, France

Copyright © 2022 Adrian Quanjer and HRAudio.net

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Sonics (Multichannel):

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