Arts Global


01 June 2003

Varvara Ivanova at Wigmore Hall

The eagerly anticipated British debut of the 16-year-old Russian harp prodigy, Varvara Ivanova, has become a reality thanks to the Swiss Global Artistic Foundation and the Victor Salvi Foundation. While rumours about exceptional gifts and shining new stars often turn out to be somewhat overblown, in this instance they proved to be more than justified.

In collaboration with flautist Neil McLaren and a very in-form London Chamber Orchestra under Geoffrey Simon, Ivanova demonstrated that she is a born virtuoso. Her sensitivity, beauty of sound and musicality captured the near-capacity audience, who quickly realized that here is one of the very few harpists who can simultaneously awe and charm. Her totality of technique and temperament was particularly in evidence in a dazzling rendition of Posse's The Carnival of Venice for harp and strings--the world premiere of an arrangement by Paul Sarcich, specially commissioned for the concert. The performance with Neil McLaren of Mozart's Concerto for Flute and Harp was at the same time simple, dazzling and direct--the way Mozart should be.

The sympathetic and rhythmically precise accompaniment by Geoffrey Simon and the orchestra was a key part in the overall enjoyment of this remarkable debut. The two works for strings alone, Corelli's Concerto Grosso Op.6 No.2 and Turina's La Oracion del Torero more than adequately complemented the harp music, as well as demonstrating Simon's gift for clarity and an obvious rapport with his musicians. These qualities were particularly evident in the Turina, a performance full of lyricism and fine colour shadings.

Commentator Edward Johnson wrote:

"The spirit of Stokowski hovered ever so slightly over the Wigmore Hall on 1 June during a London Chamber Orchestra concert presented by the Anglo-Suisse Artistic Foundation [now Swiss Global Artistic Foundation] and the Victor Salvi Foundation. It marked the debut here of the brilliant young Russian harpist Varvara Ivanova. One of her solo numbers was Marcel Grandjany's arrangement of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor, which she played superbly, as she did another dazzling piece--the first performance of Paul Sarcich's virtuoso arrangement for strings and harp of The Carnival of Venice. Geoffrey Simon gave Ivanova sympathetic support in Debussy's Danses sacrée et profane, which had been given its first American recording by Stokowski in 1931. He also conducted a passionate performance of Turina's La Oracion el Torero, music which features in the recent Stokowski "Great Conductors" 2-CD set from IMG Artists."


Varvara Ivanova harp
Neil McLaren flute
London Chamber Orchestra
Geoffrey Simon conductor

CORELLI Concerto Grosso Op.6 No.2
MOZART Concerto for Flute and Harp

BACH Toccata and Fugue in D minor for harp solo
RUBINSTEIN Melody in F for harp solo
POSSE Carnival of Venice for Harp and Strings*
TURINA La Oracion del Torero
DEBUSSY Danses Sacrées et Profanes

*The World Premiere of an arrangement by Paul Sarcich, specially commissioned for this concert
English version Version française Deutsche Version