Music for Harp

Music for Harp

Music for harp by Bay Area composers
Lou Harrison
John Cage
Wayne Peterson
Dan Reiter
Karen Gottlieb
Tod Brody
Dan Reiter
William Winant
Daniel Kennedy
Catalog Number: 
new classical

Oakland, CA

Release Date: 
Sep 25, 2015
Liner Notes: 
1 CD
One Sheet: 

Bookended by two works by composer Lou Harrison, Karen Gottlieb’s Music for Harp is a tribute to four mid-20th century new music composers of the San Francisco Bay Area. Both individually and as a group, the compositions reflect elements from the cultures of Southeast Asia, India, “The Silk Road” and Europe.

Gottlieb was raised by artistic parents — her father a classical musician, scholar and ethnomusicologist and her mother an architect. Growing up in India and Europe, her home was frequented by artists from Paul Hindemith and Darius Milhaud to Ravi Shankar and Zakir Hussain.

Her friendship with Harrison began in 1980 and she has performed and recorded his orchestral, chamber and choral works, including “Music for Harp” for a 1994 documentary, “Building A Dream,” about the design and construction of a home by Gottlieb’s architect mother, Lois Davidson Gottlieb.  The music was subsequently used in the film by Eva Soltes "Lou Harrison: A World of Music". 

Other works on the album are a riveting dialogue between flute and harp, Colloquy, by Pulitzer-Prize winning composer Wayne Peterson; a Satiesque 1948 John Cage favorite, In a Landscape; and composer-cellist Dan Reiter, whose Sonata for Flute and Harp evokes duets from around the world such as shakuhachi and koto, sarod and tabla.

Gottlieb has performed with the San Francisco Symphony for more than two decades as second harpist. In addition, Ms. Gottlieb is the Principal Harpist for The San Francisco Contemporary Music Players and performs regularly with other Northern California new music groups — Opera Parallèle, Earplay, Empyrean and Left Coast Ensembles. She has recorded regularly with the Skywalker Recording Symphony and substituted with the San Francisco Opera and Ballet orchestras. For twenty years she served as Principal Harpist with the California Symphony and performed as a member of the San Francisco Symphony “AIM” ensembles, including 4 Sounds, Strings & Things, THAT! Group and Silver & Gold, Plus. 


"Gottlieb’s rendition of Harrison’s achingly lovely Music for Harp with Percussion ... provides the most viscerally enjoyable moments. ... [H]ighly recommended to classical collections." [FULL ARTICLE]
Rick Anderson

"World-class virtuoso harpist Karen Gottlieb treats us to a program of modern-era music for harp and various chamber combinations. ... The repertoire she so aptly addresses on Music for Harp (Innova 927) reflects her roots and makes the music she plays a part of her personal heritage. Hence there is a conviction to what she does, a depth. ... The combination of Karen's harp and the twin percussion voices of William Winant and Daniel Kennedy triumph with a fully alive version of ['Music for Harp and Percussion']. It shows off Ms. Gottlieb as an expressive and fully resonant proponent of harp finesse and dynamics. And the quasi-ethnic, quasi-archaic uniqueness of mature Harrison never sounded better. ... [A]ll told we have a rather wonderful set of music on this album. Karen Gottlieb has a sure and deft sense of her instrument and brings out its many timbral and spatial wonders with these heartening set of works. Anyone who loves the harp and/or lyrical modernism will not fail to appreciate this one! ... Very recommended for its angelic presence!" [FULL ARTICLE]
Greg Edwards

"[T]here’s plenty to haunt here, including a dulcet account of Lou Harrison’s gorgeous Suite for Cello and Harp and a compelling performance of Wayne Peterson’s extended-technique-laden Colloquy for flute and harp. In the latter, Gottlieb ... is joined by Tod Brody, whose clarity of tone and pristine, confident navigation of Peterson’s demanding writing for flute is one of the disc’s highlights. ... [T]imelessness pervades Reiter’s Sonata for flute and harp, which Gottlieb and Brody treat almost like a Liszt rhapsody: flexible in tempo, songful and evocative, spirited and mysterious in affect. It’s a gripping performance and a fine piece, one whose constantly shifting moods and gestures suggests the fleeting glimpse of an elusive spirit. ... Throughout, Gottlieb’s way with the music is sure and even-handed: it sings and dances in equal measure. [A]cross this album, she’s compiled an inviting account of some underrepresented repertoire and more than done it justice." [FULL ARTICLE]
Jonathan Blumhofer

Best Classical Recordings, 2015 -- Honorable Mention [FULL ARTICLE]

"Is there a lovelier-sounding instrument than the harp? Others can certainly sound pretty, yet none can match the string instrument's velvety timbres nor evoke celestial associations with such immediacy. But Music for Harp isn't only a showcase for Karen Gottlieb's sparkling sound (though it is that); it's also a tribute album featuring mid-twentieth century classical works by composers from the San Francisco Bay Area." [FULL ARTICLE]