AWARD-WINNING HARPIST SIVAN MAGEN PERFORMS FRENCH MASTERPIECES ON NEW DISC:
US Album Release by Naxos on September 11;
UK Release by Linn Records on September 18
September 11, 2015
New York, NY – For his second solo disc, critically-acclaimed Israeli harpist Sivan Magen records some of the most significant French masterpieces written for harp over the last 200 years. French Reflections includes works by Debussy (featuring Magen’s own arrangement of Estampes), Fauré, Tournier, and Caplet, along with 21st century composers Mantovani and Schoeller. During the past century, French composers have advanced the harp to new levels of virtuosity and expression, with growing technical demands.
Sivan Magen remarks, “Few instruments are as identifiable with the French tradition as the harp is — as a youth growing up in Jerusalem it was my dream to study at the Paris Conservatory where all my ‘harp heroes’ studied, worked and taught. Once I was lucky enough to actually study at this establishment I discovered that there is in the French harp tradition not only the lushness, color and poetry of Faure, the virtuosity of Tournier or the flair of Caplet, but also, in more recent years, an exploration of more adventurous textures and expressions that go to very different realms yet are still an extension of the old traditions. This album is my personal take on how I see today the great classics I grew up on, in the light of the music of today’s composers.”
The French composers of the early twentieth century were preoccupied with sonority, resonance, imagery and exotic modality. As a result, Paris became the golden age of the harp as composers used the instrument to explore these new realms. Caplet’s Divertissements features some of the most unique and perfectly executed writing in the harp’s entire literatur. With sequences and scalic motives varied at dizzying speed, great technical poise is required. Tournier and Debussy established the harp as a crucial exponent of the dreamy impressionist style — its colors and sonority are key. A century later, Mantovani utilized a breathtaking spectrum of attacks and techniques: furious scalic motives, nail sounds, and sudden, shrill fortes which makes Tocar a testament to the harp’s more virile characteristics. Schoeller’s Esstal is in sharp contrast; its delicate figurations create a more peaceful mood and demonstrate another side to this versatile instrument. The album closes with Fauré’s magnificent Impromptu. Broad, luscious chords give way to lyrical falling motives which are developed in a series of virtuosic variations, making use of harmonics, glissandi, cross fingerings and rich arpeggios.
French Reflections is Sivan Magen’s second album for Linn Records. On his debut recording, Magen presented a collection of compositions that demonstrated the powerful expression of the harp and showcased the instrument’s diverse capability. Featuring works from J.S. Bach, C.P.E. Bach, Mozart and Brahms, to the lesser-known Henriette Rénie and Ekaterina Walter-Kühne, Fantasien is united by the theme of fantasy.
Naxos album page
“…Magen uses every means at his disposal to create a compelling emotional narrative that draws the ear irresistibly on.” — BBC Music Magazine
“Magen seems destined to be the Zabaleta de nos jours, with a paintbox of colours allied to fabulous dexterity and nuanced phrasing.” — Gramophone
“Harpist Sivan Magen is a dazzlingly virtuosic musician and in this recital disc has set out to show the flexibility of his instrument.” — Sinfini Music
1. Fauré: Une châtelaine en sa tour, Op. 110
2. Caplet: Divertissements: à la Française
3. Caplet: Divertissements: à l’Espagnole
4. Schoeller: Esstal
5. Tournier: Sonatine, Op. 30: Allègrement
6. Tournier: Sonatine, Op. 30: Calme et expressif
7. Tournier: Sonatine, Op. 30: Fièvreusement
8. Debussy: Estampes: La soirée dans Grenade
9. Debussy: Estampes: Jardins sous la pluie
10. Mantovani: Tocar
11. Fauré: Impromptu Op. 86
Total Running Time: 62 minutes
About Sivan Magen
Praised by the press as ‘a magician’ (New York’s WQXR), whose ‘virtuoso playing conjures an astonishing range of colour and dynamic’ (The Daily Telegraph), Sivan Magen transforms the harp into an expressive, colorful and virtuosic instrument, moving it to center stage through his exploration of the standard repertoire, the commissioning of today’s composers and his new adaptations for the harp of some of the greatest music of the last three centuries.
The only Israeli to have ever won the International Harp Contest in Israel, Magen is a winner of the Pro Musicis International Award and in 2012 was chosen by a committee headed by Dame Mitsuko Uchida as a winner of a Borletti-Buitoni Trust Award. He has appeared as a soloist across the USA, South America, Europe and Israel, performing in venues such as Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall, Sydney Opera House and the Vienna Konzerthaus, and with orchestras such as the Israel Philharmonic, Strasbourg Philharmonic, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Jerusalem Symphony, Sydney Symphony and Vienna Chamber Orchestra. In 2014 he was invited by Carnegie Hall to return for a recital in celebration of the American release of his first solo recording for Linn Records, Fantasien. The recital also included the world premiere of the Carnegie Hall-commissioned “ribboned/ braided/ spun” for solo harp, written by the American composer Sean Shepherd.
Aside from his activity as a soloist, Magen is an avid chamber musician and has appeared in Paris (Salle Gaveau), New York (Alice Tully Hall, the Metropolitan Museum, Bargemusic), with Musicians from Marlboro, and at the Marlboro, Kuhmo, Giverny and Jerusalem International Chamber Music Festivals. He has collaborated with artists such as Nobuko Imai, Shmuel Ashkenazi, Gary Hoffman, Michel Letiec, Charles Neidich, Carol Wincenc, Emmanuel Pahud, Nicholas Phan, Susanna Phillips and members of the Guarneri and Juilliard Quartets. Magen is a founding member of the trio Tre Voci with flautist Marina Piccinini and violist Kim Kashkashian. The trio has toured extensively in Europe and the USA, and has released to great critical acclaim a recording of works by Debussy, Gubaidulina and Takemitsu for ECM.
Born in Jerusalem, Magen studied the piano with Benjamin Oren and Talma Cohen and the harp with Irena Kaganovsky-Kessler at the Jerusalem Academy for Music and Dance. After completing his military service as an ‘Outstanding Musician’ in 2001, he continued his studies with Germaine Lorenzini in France and then joined Isabelle Moretti’s harp class at the Paris Conservatory (CNSMDP), from which he graduated with a Premier Prix. He has also completed a master’s in music as a student of Nancy Allen at the Juilliard School. He currently resides in New York City and is a faculty member at the Brooklyn College Conservatory of Music.