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Lyra Angelica (Concerto for Harp and String Orchestra)

(William Alwyn)

Translated as Angel’s Songs, and also known as “Concerto for Harp and String Orchestra”, this piece was inspired by the 1610 poem Christ’s Victorie and Triumph written by Giles Fletcher.  William Alwyn composed each movement to illustrate a line of the text as listed below and said of the piece “I have tried to sustain by interweaving the solo harp and strings into a continuous web of luminous sound.”  It has gained recent public attention by being the piece that the skater Michelle Kwan used for her routine in the 1998 Winter Olympics.  This piece is approximately 28 minutes long and written in the following four movements:

(i)                  Adagio (I looke for angel’s songs, and hear him crie.)

(ii)                Adagio, ma non troppo (Ah! Who was He such pretious perils found?)

(iii)               Moderato (And yet, how can I let Thee singing goe, When men incensd with hate Thy death foreset?)

(iv)              Allegro giubiloso – Andante con moto (How can such joy as this want words to speake?)

City of London Sinfonia recordings
Conductor – Richard Hickox (CD: Alwyn: Lyra Angelica, Autumn Legend etc)
Harp – Rachel Masters – Chandos 9065

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra Recordings
Naxos 8.557647 (CD: Alwyn: Symphonies Nos. 2 and 5/Harp Concerto, “Lyra Angelica”)
Conductor – David Lloyd-Jones
Harp – Suzanne Willison