My Harp, My Heart

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9 Seductive

"…impeccably recorded disc"

My Harp, My Heart

Lisa Tannebaum, harp. Self-released, 2016

It’s said that Albert Einstein rarely left home without music, and it inspired some of his most elegant theories in science. The Nobel laureate says he saw his life—and likely quantum physics—in terms of music and carried his violin named Lina in his battered case everywhere he went.

I wonder what goes through the analytical mind of harpist Lisa Tannebaum when she performs? She holds a degree in physics and nowadays paints sound with the same allure as a complex theorem taking up an entire whiteboard of cascading numbers, letters, and mathematical operations.

Her debut album includes many of the hits of the harp repertoire, including a pitch-perfect jean-Baptiste Loeillet Toccata arranged by Marcel Grandjany. Ms. Tanenbaum offers the finger-twister a long legato line despite its fast pace, as well as dynamic arc. When she next offers Camille Saint-Saens’ Bach transcription, that burnished warmth and phrasing takes over where she left off. Simply lovely.

Ms. Tannenbaum toured with Broadway shows, 42nd Street and The Fantasticks. It shows in her polish especially when it comes to pacing. In Alphonse Hasselmans’ La Source it takes an artist like Ms. Tannenbaum to allow the arpeggios to fall away rapidly with barely noticeable control, like the proverbial swan floating on the water, her hidden feet paddling furiously out of sight. Her sound, too, is full of color and brilliance but never harsh, taking charge at just the right moments as any pit musician knows how to do. Her Handel Passacaglia exemplifies this beautifully as well as the Grandjany’s set of variations on a theme of Haydn.

Playing with soft-hued tones is also a forte of Ms. Tannenbaum’s, particularly satisfying in the arrangement of the famous “Largo” from Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez. It’s deliciously seductive.

In 2003, Ms. Tannenbaum and her husband purchased a storied property in Connecticut called Treetops, once owned by the torch singer Libby Holman, an estate where millions of daffodils—each hand planted—spring out of the earth in a riot of color. Treetops has become the home to Music in the Woods, a place for concerts, mentoring programs, as well as ground zero for a neighborhood project called the Angel Program, an organization that sends musicians into the community to serve people who are in hospice, immobilized, or have other needs. The tagline is “sharing and caring in our community one note at a time.” All proceeds from this impeccably recorded disc go to support the program. In this reviewer’s opinion, money well spent.

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About Author

Alison Young is a classical music host and producer at Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media. She left a successful career as a flutist a decade ago after she developed a neurological disorder, but before then enjoyed many years traveling the world giving recitals, performing concertos, playing with some of the finest orchestras, and recording her own discs. Nowadays, Young spins discs and is always on the lookout for the next best thing. You can contact her at ayoung@mpr.org.

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