Near the end of composer Maurice Ravel’s Introduction and Allegro, the musical conversation between harp, woodwinds and strings pauses and the harp takes the spotlight.
The cadenza that follows, which harpist Courtney Hershey Bress played recently in the CPR Performance Studio, highlights all of the instrument’s unique qualities. There are percussive melodies, lingering chords that fill the room, and delicate high notes.
Harp manufacturer Erard hired Ravel to write the piece in 1907 as a showcase for the company's latest model. Ravel composed 11 minutes of music for harp, flute, clarinet and string quartet that climaxes with the cadenza Bress plays in the video posted above.
Bress, the Colorado Symphony’s principal harp since 2001, plays Ravel’s full Introduction and Allegro at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday with the Colorado Symphony. She’ll also perform another harp favorite, Debussy’s “Dances Sacred and Profane,” with the orchestra.
This weekend’s Colorado Symphony program includes Edward Elgar’s “Enigma Variations” and Joseph Haydn’s Symphony No. 60. Courtney Lewis conducts.
For more harp music from the CPR Performance Studio, check out this session with Rebecca Moritzky.