This recording will dispel the almost inevitable thought: ‘Who needs yet another recording of Vivaldi’s ‘The ‘Four Seasons?’: Keziah Thomas’s arrangement and performance are stunning.
Keziah has already established an impressive reputation as a harpist, not least through various prestigious competitions, as principal harpist with Covent Garden Sinfonia, and in recitals including one at the Carnegie Hall which was hailed by the New York Concert Review as ‘totally original and engaging: A previous recording, ‘Crossing Waves’ (Discovery Music and Vision), was praised in BBC Music Magazine for its ‘imaginatively programmed’ and beautifully played performances of works by Britten and Malcolm Arnold, plus newly-commissioned works.
Music composed for solo violin and strings does not easily transfer to solo harp. Keziah describes her policy as follows: ‘When combining the orchestral and solo violin parts to make my harp arrangement, I created a display of virtuosity, in which the harp showcases the breadth of its colour palette, and the harpist gives a display of technical prowess’ (CD notes). Keziah also spells out in detail how some of the illustrative touches in the original have been translated into the language of the harp. Listeners with perfect pitch may notice that Spring has been transposed by a semitone, in order that the music will work to best advantage on the harp.
Of necessity Vivaldi’s solo and ripieno parts have had to be condensed; but little has been removed. Keziah has managed most effectively to make the solo violin part stand out from the other parts. For example, the harp, unlike the solo violin, cannot sustain long notes, so that in the slow movement of Spring, the melody line has been embellished by plentiful ornamentation and with little scale figures filling in intervals between adjoining notes.
To sum up, this is a most enjoyable and enterprising CD, which will be a valuable addition to any CD collection.