Nocturne: Music for Harp | Brilliant Classics 96498

Nocturne: Music for Harp


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Label: Brilliant Classics

Cat No: 96498

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Genre: Instrumental

Release Date: 10th December 2021



Alessia Luise (harp)


Beethoven, Ludwig van

Piano Sonata no.14 in C sharp minor, op.27 no.2 'Moonlight' (arr. for harp)

Brahms, Johannes

Piano Sonata no.3 in F minor, op.5
» II Andante espressivo (arr. for harp)

Chopin, Frederic

Nocturnes (21)
» no.6 in G minor, op.15 no.3 (arr. for harp)
» no.20 in C sharp minor (without opus number) (arr. for harp)

Czerny, Carl

Kleine Fantasien (2), op.392

Debussy, Claude

Les Soirs illumines par l'ardeur du charbon (arr. for harp)
Nocturne in D flat major, L82 (arr. for harp)
Suite bergamasque
» III Clair de Lune (harp)

Field, John

Nocturnes (18)
» no.5 in B flat major, H37 (arr. for harp)


Alessia Luise (harp)


A meticulous, focused search for sound informs the selection of pieces on this recital, a voyage through 19th-century European music, in the vehicle of the nocturne, along the route of harp transcriptions. In these works, the composers capture night as a sliver of time, evoking the intimate and introspective side of the Romantic spirit. Night is also a metaphor for transformation, from darkness to light, for transcription from one musical instrument to another.

For this ‘reduction of a big thought to a practical instrument’, as Ferruccio Busoni put it in 1913, the harp was a popular choice, particularly in the late 19th century, when the instrument’s repertoire was augmented by a number of excellent transcriptions and reductions by renowned harp teachers and performers.

Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ Sonata provides the ideal starting point for a sonic journey through the light and dark of the Romantic spirit. Czerny’s short arabesques, Der Abend und die Nacht, continue the theme of twilight and night-time fantasy. Irishman John Field did not invent the nocturne, but he was responsible for the ‘crystallisation of an idiom’ that, a generation later, Chopin would take to new heights. The second movement of Brahms’s Piano Sonata no.3 evokes a nocturne, but on a larger scale. In the score is an epigraph with several verses by the poet C.O. Sternau hinting at a night-time embrace between two lovers. Debussy’s Clair de lune envelops the listener in a night freed from traditional formal structures, providing a brief escape from the 18th-century style of the preceding movements. His Nocturne in D flat, on the other hand, transports us back to Romanticism, its mysterious bass octaves and tender arpeggios leading to a melody of expansive, Chopinesque lyricism, which stands out above the changes in harmonic colour. With its pure, abstract sonority the concise Les Soirs illuminés par l’ardeur du charbon presents night as verging on silence: the deafening quiet of a cold winter evening during World War One, when the anguish of the present is mixed with gratitude for a shipment of fuel, expressed in Debussy’s gift of the manuscript (rediscovered in 2001) to the coal merchant Monsieur Tronquin.

Recorded in September of 2020, Vicenza, Italy

Bilingual booklet in English and Italian contains notes on the works by musicologist Tiziana Affortunato and a biography of the artist

Alessia Luise plays an Iris model Salvi harp

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