This disc, apparently issued by the performer herself as a medium for promoting her live appearances, takes one back to the era of elegant harp background music that one used to hear in hotels and fancy restaurants, a subset of what has been called potted-palm music. Anyone who doubts the importance of such music in the American culture of 75 years ago need only go to a Marx Brothers movie for persuasion. Harpist Phyllis Hoffman, whose taste in paisley dresses is unrivaled, promises a program of "Classical to Contemporary Favorites," and that's what you get. The emphasis is on the contemporary, which here means popular tunes rather than contemporary concert music. These, mostly arranged by Hoffman herself, are an unexpected pleasure, transforming music that you might think impervious to harp adaptation into idiomatic, multi-layered structures. Sample the medley of An American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue (one of the few transcriptions not by Hoffman), track 11. The program opens with Pachelbel's Canon in D, another work that would seem challenging on the harp, and then moves into a few expected Bach and Debussy favorites before turning in a folk and then a popular direction. Hoffman's phone number and e-mail address are given in the booklet, presumably for those who may wish to avail themselves of her services, but curiously her city of residence is nowhere given. It's too bad, for if you like old-fashioned harp music, she's your gal.
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AllMusic Review by James Manheim