One wouldn't naturally think of the combination of organ, harp, and cello as being a particularly practical or well-matched ensemble. However, this MSR Classics disc, Les Corps Glorieux, which is part of the Music from St. Ignatius Loyola series, may well surprise you. Featuring organist Nancianne Parrella, harpist Victoria Drake, and cellist Arthur Fiacco, this unassumingly designed disc has a gorgeous sound and a very pleasing selection of unfamiliar -- mostly French -- literature. Fiacco plays with a very rich, old-fashioned cello tone that makes extended use of portamenti and blends very nicely with Parrella's organ. Drake's harp playing is tasteful, rather darkly colored, and not plucky, and, like Fiacco, relates very well to the organ. The three of them playing together, as they do on Henri Büsser's Le sommeil de l'enfant Jesus, results in a fabulous tonal blend that almost automatically places one in a state of devotional relaxation. Yet the musical program is serious and not new agey -- here is short-lived contemporary composer Chris DeBlasio's setting of "God is Our Righteousness" and a gorgeous Aria from a Suite for Organ and Harp composed by Louie L. White so intriguing that it strongly makes one wonder what the rest of the suite sounds like. Parrella, Drake, and Fiacco do not play the whole disc through together, but everyone gets a solo showcase, which is an intelligent choice in such an unusual program.
MSR Classics' Les Corps Glorieux is a perfect disc for late-night reading, or even for taking a bubble bath in the dark surrounded by candles, and its music will prove strongly accessible to both those of a religious inclination and non-believers as well -- all one needs is a desire for a little peace in one's life to enjoy this.