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“Fantasie: Music for Violin & Harp”
Gaetano Donizetti: Sonata in G major for Violin and Harp
Adrian Shaposhnikov: Sonata in D minor for Violin and Harp
Alan Hovhaness: Sonata for Violin and Harp, opus 406
Angel Lasala: Poema del Pastor Coya for Violin and Harp
Murray Boren: Movements from The Liturgical Dance for Violin and Harp
Camille Saint-Saëns: Fantasie in A major for Violin and Harp, opus 124

Aurora Duo: Donna Fairbanks (violin), Lysa Rytting (harp)
Recording: DeJong Concert Hall, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah (March 13 and 15, June 15, August 10, November 26, 1996 and January 3, 1997) – 62’32
MSR Classics MS 1682 – Booklet in English

Marrying violin and harp is taken to a fulfilling level in this “Fantasie” CD by reaching into divergent models of musical approaches, some erring more traditional while others moving outside the “main-stream” bell-shaped curve. If at first blush the parenthetic continuity appears incongruous, it truly isn’t, for Donna Fairbanks and Lysa Rytting have an equipollent canvasing that adds verity to the musical landscape. Highlighted with composers spanning three centuries, this sampling delivers a strong vision via an individualistic lens with emphasis on protean detail.

The opening spot of grave Romanticism inside Donizetti’s “Larghetto” (strongly presaging Lucia di Lammermoor [ref: Lucia’s Act I cavatina]) establishes a pace that comfortably settles upon the ear. This delightful rendition pivots forward into the semi-strident sentimentalities of Adrian Shaposhnikov. At times, bathed in a broth of pined Vaughan Williamsesque remembrance, Donna Fairbanks has a prudent scope, freshly delivered with understated impeccability while radiating against the shimmering flows of Lysa Rytting’s harp. A myriad of musical elocution, it becomes evident there’s a natural, free-flowing progression of never-forced and never-pretentious expression.

In equally pristine fashion, the Aurora Duo gives us a strong indication of the beauty resting inside the creations penned by Alan Hovhaness. Turning and turning with fleeting quips, the “Prelude” begins like an Erik Satie piece which melds into the somber, starry “Cantando” with its lovely holds. “Dance” paints someone skipping through a field of Scottish heather while the plodding cadence, “Lullaby”, acts as a connection point to the wafting “Andante dolce” with its bittersweet distances.

In general, Lysa Rytting is the supportive bracket for Donna Fairbanks: we look into a window of elegance and sophisticated nuances. Nowhere is articulation better evidenced than in Angel Lasala’s Poema del Pastor Coya. A stringed litany of seamless intimacy opens with “Con La Chola y El Changuito”, but Ms. Fairbanks turns on the veritable emotional capacity inside the crushingly beautiful, crestfallen “Quena”, eliciting a simplistic Argentinian vogue of The Lark Ascending. The closing “Danzando” best captures how well the duo carries a fluid dialogue between one another…no second guessing here. The match is razor-edged and strongly quartered. Fabulous.

The contrasting rawness of Murray Boren’s Movements from The Liturgical Dance teems with dissonance. Fairbanks and Rytting magnify the pneuma with plenty of character. The pizzicato technique found in “Dance n° 3” has a Shaker quality: stripped and earthy, making one collapse into a semi-trance. This is a fascinating, absorbing journey and keenly promotes the Duo's “character on strings.”

We breathe more freely upon traversing back into a more familiar axiom in the conclusive work by Camille Saint-Saëns. If there is any place where the freedom inside the heart shines more brightly, it’s found in this charged, neo-classical work. Lysa Rytting pockets the air with gorgeous roulades. Filled with several cleanly delineated “thoughts” [dabbled by more brusque contemporary flux], the Fantasie for Violin and Harp is a great choice for the Aurora Duo to end their CD, especially with the flashback to the Frenchman’s ending of Le Rouet d’Omphale (1872) and its conciliatory finish. Very convincing and pristine.

Christie Grimstad




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