Albums of contemporary harp music don't appear every day, so Illuminations by Canadian harpist Judy Loman may attract listeners purely for its apparent novelty. But give this disc a hearing for more important reasons: the music is delightfully poetic and the program is filled with substantial original works, not just flashy etudes or slick arrangements of familiar material. The King David Sonata by Srul Irving Glick provides a sumptuous opening with its lush textures, placid moods, and delicate figurations, and Loman's performance is highly atmospheric and evocative (though one may not necessarily find any Biblical imagery in this dreamy, neo-Impressionist work). R. Murray Schafer's freely rhapsodic Wild Bird pits a virtuosic violin part against an equally active harp accompaniment, and Loman's skills are seriously tested along with those of violinist Jacques Israelievitch. Glenn Buhr's Danses Abstraites pairs a flute and harp in lively repartee, though these dances seem almost conventional in this mild reading with flutist Nora Shulman. The title work, Illuminations by Kelly-Marie Murphy, is another solo piece that Loman suffuses with shimmering colors and brilliant highlights, and the suggested imagery of light growing in intensity is effectively realized in the swelling dynamics and penetrating sonorities toward the end. Raymond Ludeke's four-movement work for harp and string quartet, The Lyre of Orpheus, closes the recording with a neo-Romantic reflection on mythological themes, inspired by the poetry of Rilke. This is perhaps the least effective showpiece for Loman's talents since the harp is often masked by the strings, and the ensemble writing seems a bit dense and busy; yet the piece gives the recital the needed feeling of summation, particularly in its elegiac finale. Marquis Classics has provided pleasant sound for these recordings, though one might wish for sharper details and a little less resonance.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Sonata for harp ("King David")|
|Danses Abstraites (3), for flute & harp|
|Illuminations, for harp|
|The Lyre of Orpheus, for harp & string quartet|