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Notes on the performers
Gwenllian has performed in prestigious venues alongside renowned artists, including Rebecca Evans, Imogen Cooper, Al Jarreau, Matthew Rees and Bryn Terfel. Gwenllian toured the UK alongside the release of her debut album with Sain, ‘Dusk to Dawn’, and her playing was praised for its rare “liquid legato” and “compelling mellowness”.
Gwenllian is becoming increasingly in demand as a soloist with orchestras and choirs, enabling her to demonstrate the wide-range of harp music to more audiences. She was invited to be guest soloist with Côrdydd as they took to the stage of Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, and she relished the opportunity to share the music of Welsh composers in this prestigious venue. Gwenllian has also recently performed the fiery and percussive Concerto by Ginastera with the Milton Keynes Sinfonia, the elegant and much-loved flute and harp Concerto by Mozart alongside Shirley Barningham with the Hallgate Chamber Orchestra, as well as the colourful and contrasting Danses by Debussy with the Orchestra of St. John’s.
From the Hearth (O’r Aelwyd)
In appreciation of the wonderful tradition of sharing music and legends around an open fire, this programme celebrates the transformation of melodies, stories and nursery rhymes into harp masterpieces. Join Gwenllian Llŷr as she displays the versatility of the harp, including her own reimagination of the well-known hymn ‘Calon Lan’, a rhythmic visit to a New York night club, as well as her transcription of the stunning Prelude and Nocturne by Scriabin played solely with her left hand.
Haldon Evans (b. 1953)
- Dros y Mynydd (Over the Mountain)
- Suo Gân (Lullaby)
- O’r Banna (From the Beacons)
Haldon Evans’s “Soliloquies” (“Ymsonau”) for solo pedal harp is a three-movement original work based on Welsh folk tunes. A sophisticated concert-piece, this suite makes a very entertaining and imaginative rendering of this traditional music.
R. V. Williams, arr. K. Thomas
Fantasia on Greensleeves
Henriette Renie (1875 – 1956)
Renie dedicated this piece to Marcel Grandjany. A challenging piece in one movement. Beginning with Renie’s Ballade Fantastique (the tell-tale heart), Llyr’s technique is sure, powerful and well-up to the challenges of this notorious gothic fantasy. Changes in register and colour are defined and the ghoulish subject matter clearly lives in the artist’s imagination as she plays.
Ffantasi ar Calon Lan
“Calon Lân” (Welsh for ‘A Pure Heart’) is a Welsh hymn, the words of which were written in the 1890s by Daniel James (Gwyrosydd) and sung to a tune by John Hughes. The song was originally written as a hymn, but has become firmly established as a rugby anthem. This is an original composition by Gwenllian.
Alexander Scriabin (1872 – 1915)
Prelude and Nocturne for the left hand
Composed in 1894, the works for left hand were written as a consequence of a nearly disastrous injury to his right hand. Having always been the darling of his teachers and relatives, Scriabin found himself by 1891 with stiff competition. His fellow students at the Moscow Conservatory included Rachmaninov, Josef Hofmann and Josef Lhévinne and due to over-practice of Balakirev’s Islamey and Liszt’s Réminiscences de Don Juan, Scriabin temporarily lost the full use of his right hand. Both the Prelude and the Nocturne are lovely works, and despite his setback Scriabin still seems intent on proving his ability as a pianist by turning the Nocturne in particular into a technical tour de force.
Claude Debussy (1862 – 1918)
Clair de Lune
Suite bergamasque is a piano suite by Claude Debussy. He began composing it around 1890, at the age of 28, but significantly revised it just before its 1905 publication. The popularity of the 3rd movement, “Clair de lune”, has made it one of the composer’s most famous works for piano, as well as one of the most famous musical pieces of all-time. The suite was originally composed for piano but has been arranged for a wide variety of instruments and combinations. Clair de Lune means “moonlight” in French, is taken from Verlaine’s poem “Clair de lune”. The movement is in D-flat major.
Pearl Chertok (1918 – 1981)
Around the Clock Suite
- Harpicide at Midnight
Pearl Chertok was an internationally regarded harpist and composer for harp from America. This suite for pedal harp incorporates elegant classical traditions with contemporary harp techniques and jazz rhythms. Harpicide at Midnight is the third movement in the Around the Clock Suite.