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Music for Violin & Harp

Murray Boren, Claude Debussy, Christopf Willibald Gluck, Gaylen Hatton, Jacques Ibert, D E Inghelbrecht, Joseph Lauber, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Carl Nielsen, Andrea Padovano, Philippe Sagnier, Camille Saint-Saƫns, Domenico Scarlatti, Atli Heimir Sveinsson, Heitor Villa-Lobos

Donna Fairbanks, Violin
Lysa Rytting, Harp



"Skeptics who cite the alleged omnipresence of harps in heaven as a reason for not wanting to spend eternity there may have second thoughts after listening to these seamlessly sequenced, ethereally exquisite works: 15 composers—three centuries' worth, both the famous and the perhaps-never-to-be—as brought to life by the Utah Valley University faculty members Donna Fairbanks and Lysa Rytting. Nicanor Zabaleta fans may wish the overall texture were more rugged. Even they, however, would be nitpicking to want more precision. Or more beauty."
Arsenio Orteza, World Magazine [May 2010]
"...Inghelbrecht’s Esquisses antiques, Andrea Padovano’s Berceuse, and even Carl Nielsen’s The Fog Is Lifting, create a fragrant atmosphere enhanced by Fairbanks ’s smoothly oiled approach and rich, buttery tone...  in Heitor Villa-Lobos’s The Song of the Black Swan...Fairbanks chants with throaty ardor over a harp accompaniment of ice-crystal clarity. Ibert’s Entr’acte, with its mesmerizing repetitions of figures, provides the first sharply contrasting mood, and the Duo’s command of dynamics and textures makes it a particularly effective interlude... Mozart’s Adagio, the first item from the Classical era, may share the acoustic ambiance of the other pieces, but the Duo manages to impart to it clear stylistic definition...  Debussy’s “The Little Shepherd” once again makes an excursion into a style strikingly different, and this time rich in harmonic connotations and melodic allusions that the Duo realizes with particularly keen insight; and Fairbanks and Rytting bring Atli Heimir Sveinsson’s Intermezzo to life by deploying their ample dynamic imagination. Arrangers have transcribed Saint-Saëns’s warhorse for many instrumental combinations, none more effective than violin and harp; and it evokes one of the ensemble’s most affecting musical characterizations. Joseph Lauber’s Medieval Dances provide, in the Mascarade in particular, a way of combining the instruments that allows the Duo to probe more deeply their capabilities, both individually and in ensemble. Murray Boren’s Liturgical Dance, Nos. 35, 36, and 37, which the Aurora Duo commissioned, represent perhaps the boldest harmonic scheme and, in No. 36, a hauntingly spare, if not severe, expressivity. Recommended..."
Robert Maxham, Fanfare [January / February 2010]
"What an unexpected gem this was! Entitled Melodie, the name conjures up both “melody” in the usual sense of the word and the French art-song tradition la Mélodie. And that is what this recital has most to offer: an unabashed love of pure, enchanting melody by composers old and new. The Aurora Duo consists of two American women, violinist Donna Fairbanks and harpist Lysa Rytting. I’d never heard of them before, which I must say is a shameful omission on my part. I am glad to rectify it, for this is one recital that will surely have a place on my record shelf. I love the way these two artists delight in the variety of the sensually beautiful sounds and textures their instruments can produce. .. Recommended for people who love their music sweet and beautiful. "
Phil Muse, Audio Club of Atlanta [February 2010]
The most fundamental essence of music, melody, answers our instinctual longing for beauty in sound. Melody swells from a creative outlet that seems vital to our existence. We are drawn to its inspirational force and its capacity to stir an endless variety of emotions. Melody can be simple and serene, or imaginative and playful. It can be triumphal or mournful, primitive or sophisticated, impassioned or carefree. What better way to celebrate melody than with the glorious combination of violin and harp? While the violin swells with warm and vibrating sound, the harp, an instrument with an ancient past, produces tones that are near mystical in their beauty. Together, the instruments blend to create music with an otherworldly quality.

This album features music by fifteen composers from varying time periods, nationalities and styles. The melodies written by 18th-century composers Gluck, Mozart and Scarlatti are inherently elegant, with graceful symmetry and beautifully-tailored harmonies. French composers Debussy, Saint-Saëns, Lauber, Ibert, Sagnier and Inghebrecht used melody to conjure images and emotions. Debussy, the master of mood and color, wrote melodies that weave through the music as effortlessly as a brush stroke across a canvas. In The Little Shepherd, Debussy paints a pastoral scene of idyllic simplicity and innocence. Saint-Saëns’ The Swan portrays the majestic beauty of the swan in the soaring melody, and the watery waves in the undulating accompaniment. All the color and romance of an antiquated French festival is captured in 4 Danses Médiévales by Lauber, and the exotic flavor and bravura of a Spanish flamenco dance is recreated in Ibert’s Entr’acte. Vivid imagery continues with The Black Swan by Brazilian composer Villa- Lobos, where the swan is visualized through the lens of dark romanticism. The entire violin melody is held captive on the low G string, and the wave-like harp accompaniment shimmers with intensity. The magic of dreams, mist and twilight are brought to life in Padovano’s Berceuse and Nielsen’s The Fog is Lifting. And, true to its title, Intermezzo by Icelandic composer Sveinsson has all the trimmings of a brief drama inserted between scenes of a play. Splendid craftsmanship of melody is evident in the premiere recordings of pieces by American composers Hatten and Boren. Sonatine in C minor by Hatten has two alternating melodies, one punctuated by quickly changing meters and fast passagework, and a second that flows with lovely poignancy. Movements from the Liturgical Dance Nos.35-37 by Boren is a work commissioned by the Aurora Duo. The first two movements shift from dynamic playfulness to transparent texture and introspection. The final dance movement exudes hypnotic energy and drama with accented violin pizzicato and an insistent rhythmic melodic line.

The AURORA DUO was formed in 1991 by violinist Donna Fairbanks and harpist Lysa Rytting. Although the repertoire for violin-harp duos is unique and beautiful, it is seldom heard. Fairbanks and Rytting are committed to increasing the awareness of this rare form of chamber music through their performances and recordings. The Duo’s repertoire represents music from a wide variety of time periods and styles, and includes numerous works written expressly for them by contemporary composers, two of which are featured here in their world premiere recordings.

Donna Fairbanks has performed as a soloist with several orchestras, including the Charleston Symphony, the Utah Symphony, the Orquestra Sinfonica de Londrina in Brazil and Sun Valley’s Elkhorn Festival Orchestra. She has also given recital tours in Mexico, Brazil, Europe, and China, and has performed solo recitals throughout the United States. Fairbanks received a Doctor of Musical Arts in Violin Performance from the University of Arizona, a Master of Music from the Eastman School of Music, and a Bachelor of Music from Brigham Young University. Her teachers include Zvi Zeitlin, Varujan Kojan, William Harroutonian, Tiberius Klausner, Morris Hochberg, John Ferrell and Percy Kalt. She also received chamber coaching from William Primrose and the Cleveland Quartet. Fairbanks has taught as a faculty member at the University of Minnesota MacPhail Center for the Arts, Brigham Young University and as a guest artist at the Universidade Estadual de Londrina in Brazil. She is currently Professor of Violin in the Music Department at Utah Valley University.

Harpist Lysa Rytting has performed as a soloist with the Utah Symphony, Utah Valley Symphony and Utah Chamber Players. Currently second harpist with the Utah Symphony, Rytting has also performed with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Trenton Symphony Orchestra, Boise Philharmonic Orchestra, Chautauqua Institute Orchestra, Oregon Symphony Orchestra and Las Vegas Philharmonic Orchestra, among others. She received a Premier Prix in harp performance from the Royal Conservatory of Brussels in Belgium, where she studied with Susanna Mildonian. Other teachers include Marylin Costello, former principal harpist of the Philadelphia Orchestra; Eileen Malone of the Eastman School of Music; and Louise Pratt and Rosalie Pratt at Brigham Young University. She is also an active recording artist and recitalist, and has performed at many music festivals, including the Moab Music Festival, Park City International Chamber Music Festival, Deer Valley Music Festival, Skaneateles Music Festival in New York, and the Oregon Bach Festival.
D.E. INGHELBRECHT (1880-1965)
Esquisses Antiques


CARL NIELSEN (1865-1931)
The Fog Is Lifting, Op.41

DOMENICO SCARLATTI (1685-1757) | Arranged by Arnold Freed
Sonata in E minor for Flute and Harp

The Song of The Black Swan

JACQUES IBERT (1890-1962)

WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZART (1756-1791) | Transcribed by Bonnie Caplan
Adagio in B minor

CHRISTOPF WILLIBALD GLUCK (1714-1787) | Arranged by Fritz Kreisler

GAYLEN HATTON (1928-2008)
Sonatine in C minor

Petite Suite Armoricaine

CLAUDE DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
The Little Shepherd (Le Petit Berger)

Intermezzo (from Dimmalimm)

CAMILLE SAINT-SAËNS (1835-1921) | Edited by Carlos Salzedo
The Swan (from Carnival of the Animals)

JOSEPH LAUBER (1864-1952)
4 Danses Médiévales, Op.45

Movements from the Liturgical Dance

MSR Classics
Music for Violin & Harp AURORA DUO