Reviews

" ... There is no doubt that Verkholantseva binds with the harp a lot of her intimate emotions. Her pulse of a modern, ambitious, energetic personality of the youthful range doesn't sink as she appears at this parlor saloon instrument ... "

"Harper's Bazaar", Moscow, April 1998

" ... Combining faultless technique with her own poetic nature and charm, she extracts a level of sound and beauty from the instrument that leaves audiences astonished ... "

"The Moscow Times", June, 1999

" ... Two Russians, harpist Anna Verkholantseva and violonist Alexandre Trostianski, performed the work by Thomas Rajna. Verkholantseva, the young prizewinner of the 1997 International Moscow Harp Competition, is regarded as one of the top harpists in the world ...

 " "Monday Newspaper", Cape Town, September, 1999

"Considering that the balance of violin and harp duos leave the impression of a harpist trying feverishly to cover a piano score, the A&R folks at Eganrecords made two brainy decisions with regard to a violin and harp disc. First, they included only works written for that instrumentation, shunning the usual transcriptions. Second, they found a violin and harp duo that can flat-out play. The two young Russians Trostiansky and Verkholantseva are equally brilliant, displaying a near-perfect balance of jaw-dropping technique, heartfelt expressions, and flawless ensemble. With a musical maturity that belies their years, these two make the disc's program sound natural, unforced, and refined.

The duo's familiarity with each other comes as no great surprise: they performed the premiere of two of the four pieces on the disc at the 1999 World Harp Congress in Prague. These two pieces, one by Ukranian composer Valeri Kikta and the other by Hungarian Thomas Rajna, are written in a way which embraces the unorthodox nature of the violin and harp ensemble, instead of attempting to obscure it. What really makes these two pieces work, however, are the dazzling performances of Trostiansky and Verkholantseva. Trostiansky's violin acts as an extension of his voice, with flawless intonation and a rich sound that both soars and simmers when either timbre is called for. Verkholantseva plays in much the same way, with a keen sense of drama and expression. These two player's performances are thoroughly convincing, especially on the Kikta and Rajna works they know so well.

The Kikta Sonata explores rich harmonies and varied colors but is substantive enough to satisfy the chamber music devotee. Rajna's Suite is perhaps a bit more transparent, but its well-conceived structure and interesting, tuneful quality are more than enough to make this a fitting finisher for the disc. Both pieces are worthy additions to the repertoire. In perhaps the ultimate compliment to the purist, the strikingly natural technique displayed here-especially by harpist Verkholantseva-prompts favorable comparisons to the best violin and piano duos.

Rounding out the disc are a few chestnuts by Rossini and Saint-Saens, also well.played and roundly enjoyable. But harpists will find the most interest in the two new works, expertly composed and thrillingly performed. This isn't just another harp record; this is chamber music at its best, with two young stars providing some serious fireworks.

"Harp Column" Magazine, Collector's Corner CD Review by Darin Kelly, October 2001