02 Ofra HarnoyElgar & Lalo Cello Concertos
Ofra Harnoy
Sony Classical 19658824342 (ofraharnoy.ca)

There’s a fascinating story behind the release of Ofra Harnoy Elgar & Lalo Cello Concertos. When Harnoy joined the international artists roster of RCA Victor Red Seal in 1987, she became the first Canadian classical instrumental soloist since Glenn Gould to gain an exclusive worldwide contract with a major record label. The Elgar was recorded with George Pehlivanian and the London Philharmonic Orchestra in April 1996 at the Abbey Road studios, but was never edited and released, apparently due to the ending of Harnoy’s association with RCA/BMG, now part of Sony Classical. 

After repeated enquiries and searches over the years the master tapes were finally located in 2022. Fortunately, notes from the sessions survived, and the original producer, Andrew Keener, was available to advise Harnoy’s husband and manager Mike Herriott, who edited the tapes in their own home studio. Ron Searles of Red Maple Sound in Toronto mastered the final edit, as well as remastering the Lalo Concerto in D Minor, a reissue of the 1995 recording with Antonio de Almeida and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.

In an interview just after the recording sessions Harnoy said that the Elgar “is one of those pieces that just wrings me dry; I always end up crying.” It’s a truly beautiful performance, emotionally searching and full of warmth. There is also a direct link to Jacqueline du Pré, with whom the concerto is inextricably associated, through mutual teacher William Pleeth as well as Harnoy’s participation in a du Pré masterclass. 

Lalo’s Concerto in D Minor was recorded at the Poole Arts Centre in Dorset in May of the previous year. It’s a fine addition to a significant release.

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