Reviews



The Bach notebook

From the Bach Notebook

From the Bach Notebook

“The suites are a revelation on the concert harp…a fascinating interpretation of one of music’s great masterpieces. Excellent sonics, with or without a HDCD decoder.” – John Sunier, Audiophile Audition, October 19, 2007   Click for entire article

“The suites sound ravishing on the harp; the lingering resonance of the vibrating strings fills in the harmonies that are implied in the linear cello part, and adds an appealing richness. Drake has a broad expressive range and can play with gossamer delicacy or rhythmic vigor, according to the character of each movement. She has terrific technique and handles even the most rigorous demands with grace and assurance. Her playing is supple and flexible, with just enough fluidity, avoiding both rigidity and Romantic excess. The sound has a nice balance of brightness and warmth, with a good sense of presence.” – Stephen Eddins, AllMusic.com   Click for entire article

 

 

Scarlatti’s Harp

Scarlatti’s Harp

“Harpist Victoria Drake has plenty of passion – the sheer sensuality of plucking the strings with one’s fingers ensures that. But Drake also responds to Scarlatti the same way I do. For instance, she exults in the rhythmic drive of K 201 and the famous K 159. In the slow sonatas (K 87, 466, and 207 above all), she has a vocal expressiveness impossible to achieve on the harpsichord but absolutely perfect for this music.” – Robert Haskins, American Record Guide, Vol. 61, Issue 6, Nov/Dec 1998

 

“Scarlatti is a somewhat obscure contemporary of Bach and Handel who deserves wider recognition. Sonatas were composed as especially intimate music, and played here on the harp, they are superb. The sound of the harp seems to me as gentle as a lover’s whisper, making it a perfect instrument to convey the emotional nuances of the compositions. Fans of harp music and/or baroque music will snap this one up. Play it in your store to win over the uninitiated, without fail.” – AR, NAPRA ReVIEW Summer 1995

 

“Transcriptions of Scarlatti’s plentiful keyboard sonatas are very effective on the harp, much more so than on the lute or guitar. It seems odd that the CD era has not produced such a collection before. Victoria Drake gives enchanting, wholly unaffected readings in her timely set. The included works range from the familiar – the catchy Sonata in C Major, K.159, which every piano student knows – to the rare – the ethereal Sonata in A Major, K. 451. It would be unfair to the artist or the repertoire to relegate this disc to background music, but the combination of Scarlatti’s engaging invention and the dulcet sound of the harp is undeniably soothing. The sonics are warm and intimate. Even alongside “authentic” renderings and the interpretive efforts of more famous performers, Drake’s recording is one of the most pleasing Scarlatti recitals of late.” – Anthony Gary Campbell, H&B Recordings Direct, 1995

 

“What makes the all-Scarlatti album by New York-based harpist Victoria Drake so very attractive is the beautifully nuanced playing one hears, with notes in sequence always having shape and phrases making perfect musical sense. Her clearly defined rhythmic sense is excellent, and seldom is there an undue vestige of romanticism. Furthermore, almost all these arranged selections, including some fairly virtuosic examples, seem singularly well-suited to the harp, which also is warmly and naturally recorded without ever being over-reverberant.” – Igor Kipnis, Stereophile, July 1995

 

“Scarlatti on the harp is almost as logical as Scarlatti on the piano – “almost” because I miss the percussive/rhythmic element provided by both harpsichord and piano. The harp makes the music more gentle, more genteel, and less quirky than it really should be. But there is a lot of art and technique on display here; the mostly well-known sonatas emerge gracefully from Victoria Drake’s skillful hands and fingers.” – E.S., Stereo Review, May 1995

 

Les Corps Glorieux – Music for Organ, Harp & Cello
including Handel Harp Concerto & Grandjany Aria with Nancianne Parrella & Arthur Fiacco

Les Corps Glorieux

“Perhaps the most justly celebrated harp-and-organ work is the Aria in Classic Style of Marcel Grandjany, a transcendent technical challenge for the harpist, which Drake negotiates with style and clarity. Another significant challenge to the harpist is the Handel Concerto in B-flat, Op. 6/4, in which the solo was originally designated “for organ or harp.” Drake has impeccable technique and a sense of Baroque elegance.” – The Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians, September, 2006

 

 

 

 

 

 

LIVE PERFORMANCE REVIEWS

Harpist adds beauty to Bach Cello Suites
“Bach’s Cello Suites can change character drastically, depending on which character takes up the bow.
They change even more drastically when they change instruments. Chords that are implicit on cello become explicit on the harp, which is to say that long, spinning tunes become rolling harmonies. What is spare and tragic on the cello becomes lush and delirious on the harp. Partisans of tragedy and cello might argue that the harp perverts the lofty message of this music, that the harp makes it too beautiful. But there’s no arguing with the beauty heard Monday night. To my ear, Drake revealed an unexpected facet of a multifaceted piece of music.” – Tom Strini, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 21, 1995

 

“When I first heard harpist Victoria Drake some seven or eight years ago, I remarked the “her playing told the whole story.” As much as I’ve admired her work ever since, I realized with some force on Saturday evening how really great a musician and instrumentalist she is. There was a stirring, buoyant vibrancy to her playing, which added a special focus to the work; sure and highly musical, she was a delight to hear.” – Joel Hupper, Greenwich (CT) News,  December 28, 1995

 

“Victoria Drake, from the U.S., presented a seasoned professional performance, using her understanding of textural and dynamic values to achieve effective structural contrasts. Her repertoire, limited to three choices (Hovhaness Sonata; Mozart Sonata in F, K. 322; and Renie Legende), aimed at in-depth treatment rather than breadth of focus.” – Max Stern, The Jerusalem Post, December 1, 1988

© Victoria Drake 2012