An evening to banish all ills we are currently facing at home and abroad as Rosanna Rolton captivated us with her enthusiasm for the harp. Now several harpists have played for Boston Concert Club over the years, including Osian Ellis, famous in his time. As I recollect, they all did introduce us to the history of this unique stringed instrument, and usually took trouble to explain the use of its pedals. Rosanna outdid them all, for she is as skilled in words as in playing her instrument. Surely, it’s rare for a musician to make sure their audience can hear properly and invite questions! She made us laugh, especially with telling the story behind de Falla’s opera La Vida Breve. By midway through the second half I was so well prepared and engaged that I could listen intently to a piece by Berio composed in 1963 that demands not only stroking the strings but smacking the frame.
A group of members spent the interval clustered round Rosanna clearly enjoying a chat with her during the interval and everyone I encountered over coffee was full of praise and admiration. It came as no surprise to hear how successful her school visit had been earlier in the day.
So clever to begin with a Scarlatti transcription to harp from harpsichord to show how both have a percussive quality because in both the strings are plucked. Then after a taste of some virtuoso harpists of the nineteenth century and more recent pieces, it was an arrangement from Smetana’s Ma Vlast, The Moldau, all life is there as the river flows from source to be finally lost in the sea – a wonderful choice to end a most splendid evening.