Music Moment: Concerto for Harp and Strings in C (Francois Boieldieu)

The name Francois-Adrien Boieldieu (1775 – 1834) may not ring a bell with many classical music lovers. But the “French Mozart”, as he is often called, was an accomplished composer, though mainly of operas. Boieldieu’s best-known work is his 1825 masterpiece, the comic opera La dame blanche based on episodes from two novels by Walter Scott. But he also wrote other works, many of which possess melodies that are set to light and tasteful orchestration. Among these is his Concerto for Harp and Strings in C, one of the masterpieces of the harp repertory and written when he was only 25.

LISTEN: Francois-Adrien Boieldieu, Concerto for Harp and Strings in C – III (the first three movements), Harpist: Marisa Robles. Duration: 6:54 mins.

The work opens with a long allegro of some charm, but the next two movements are truly the work’s high point, making the opening section almost seem a warm-up. The second movement (Andante lento) sounds for all the world like a dramatic cantabile for soprano transcribed for harp, and is as beautiful as any such scene. In the third movement (Allegro agitato), the harp abandons the lyricism of the second movement for more ornamented lines set to a sunnier melody of transcendental virtuosity. All in all, a superbly rich musical experience.

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