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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Various Composers - Histoires für Harfe & Klavier (Duo Praxedis)


  1. Charles Oberthür - Duett über Themen aus 'La Sonnambula' (Bellini)
  2. Theodore Labarre - Caprice on 'La Favorite', Op. 111 (Donizetti)
  3. Henry Steil - Terzetto 'Zitti, zitti, piano, piano' (Rossini)
  4. Sophie-Lucille Larmande des Argus - Fantaisie sur des motifs du 'Siège de Corinthe' (Rossini)
  5. Theodore Labarre - Duo su temi della 'La gazza ladra' (Rossini)
  6. François-Joseph Naderman - Variationen über Themen aus 'Figaros Hochzeit' (Mozart)
  1. Benedetto Negri - Réminiscences aus 'La gazza ladra' (Rossini)
  2. Sophie-Lucile Larmande des Argus - Duo concertant de l'opera 'Emma' (Meyerbeer)
  3. Charles Oberthür - Various themes on 'La Favorite' (Donizetti)
  4. Sophie-Lucile Larmande des Argus - Fantaisie sur des motifs de 'Marie' (Hérold)
  5. Robert-Nicolas-Charles Bochsa - Ouverture aus 'Il Barbiere di Siviglia' (Rossini)

Duo Praxedis
Praxedis Hug-Rütti, harp
Praxedis Geneviève Hug, piano

Date: 2018
Label: Ars Produktion




I first heard the harp/piano Duo Praxedis on their CD containing wonderful arrangements of Brahms’ Hungarian Dances. Their audacious and ingeniously-crafted transcription of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade also impressed me. So does this two-disc set of operatic transcriptions, arrangements, and paraphrases by obscure 19th-century musicians.

Most of these are potboilers, meaning that you have familiar arias strung together with virtuoso filler: Naderman’s rather empty-headed variation set on Mozart’s “Non più andrai” from The Marriage of Figaro is a case in point, and so is Labarre’s entertaining if overlong Caprice on Donizetti’s La Favorite, which yields to the textural invention and dramatic contrasts characterizing Oberthür’s treatment of the same source material. Bochsa’s fairly literal arrangement of Rossini’s Barber of Seville Overture is less effective when the sharply delineated accompaniment is assigned to the harp. But the arrangements by both Labarre and Negri are represented by two very different yet equally fun concoctions based on Rossini’s La gazza ladra.

In any event, the only way to interpret this kind of music is to lavish the utmost care and detail on every bar, and to play with conviction. The two musicians calibrate balances in regard to melody and accompaniment with sophisticated aplomb, while their rubato passages achieve an eerie synchronicity. While the sonics are on the thin, over-resonant side, the performances never fail to delight. However, like all ear candy, it’s best to listen in small doses, one selection at a time. Well, maybe two, but three’s the limit!

-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday


Duo Praxedis is a piano-harp duo from Switzerland, which is composed of Praxedis Hug-Rütti on the harp and her daughter Praxedis Geneviève Hug on the piano. The mother-daughter duo gives about 40 concerts each year in Switzerland and abroad. Their repertoire ranges from original compositions for harp and piano from early days of classical music, to arrangements and transcriptions of romantic works, as well as commissioned new compositions from contemporary composers. The duo released numerous albums, including an album titled 'Sound of Zurich' which dedicated to contemporary music from Switzerland.


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