With Vienna Stories, Belgian harpist Anneleen Lenaerts pays tribute to the city that has been her musical home since 2010, when she became principal harpist of the Wiener Philharmoniker. Not only is it one of the world’s greatest symphony orchestras, with a tradition going back to 1842, but its members also play in the orchestra pit of one of the world’s greatest opera houses, the Wiener Staatsoper or Vienna State Opera.
This dual mission is reflected in Vienna Stories, which comprises arrangements for solo harp, and for harp and string quintet, of music conceived for both the concert hall and the opera house. In the first category are pieces by Smetana, Liszt and Johann Strauss; in the second are excerpts from operas by Dvořák (Rusalka), Wagner (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg), Gounod (Faust), Puccini (La bohème), Tchaikovsky (Yevgeny Onegin) and Richard Strauss (the waltzes from an opera that has played a role in defining perceptions of Vienna, Der Rosenkavalier).
Anneleen Lenaerts explains her thinking behind Vienna Stories: “As a reflection and celebration of the journey so far, I have selected pieces from both the operatic and symphonic worlds that are special to me and tell a story about my life in the Wiener Philharmoniker. Whether it’s a memory of the Préludes by Liszt with Riccardo Muti, Smetana’s Má vlast with Daniel Barenboim, Yevgeny Onegin with Andris Nelsons, Der Rosenkavalier with Franz Welser-Möst, or of a New Year’s concert and so many other memorable performances with Mariss Jansons, each occasion has left a special impression on me. This huge source of musical inspiration has shaped me into the harpist I am today.
“It has become a tradition for influential harpists to write fantasies on famous symphonic or operatic themes, expanding the harp repertoire with great music that puts our instrument in the spotlight with all its technical possibilities. Even though a beautiful selection of pieces already exists, one of the most important opera composers of all time was still missing for me: Puccini. He not only wrote fantastic operas but also knew better than anybody how to use the harp and give it a prominent role in his unique lyric language. For this recording, I was keen to write a fantasy on his most famous opera, La bohème.”
In what she describes as “the icing on the cake”, Anneleen Lenaerts is joined by five string players from the Wiener Philharmoniker, including concertmaster Rainer Honeck, in arrangements of waltzes from Der Rosenkavalier and the most famous waltz of all, Johann Strauss’s An der schönen blauen Donau, otherwise known as The Blue Danube. These are new arrangements made especially for Vienna Stories by Wouter Lenaerts – Anneleen’s brother.
05 December 2016
Harp virtuoso Anneleen Lenaerts signs to Warner Classics
Warner Classics has signed an exclusive long-term recording contract with the young Belgian harpist Anneleen Lenaerts.
Lenaerts, who has been principal harpist of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra since 2010, has already made two recordings for Warner Classics. Her new album of music by Schubert, Robert Schumann and Clara Schumann, on which she is partnered by clarinettist Dionysis Grammenos, is the first fruit of the exclusive agreement and was preceded by an orchestral album debut released in 2015: concertos by Glière, Jongen and Rodrigo with the Brussels Philharmonic Orchestra and Michael Tabachnik.
The victor in such events as the Grand Prix International Lily Laskine and the ARD International Music Competition, Anneleen Lenaerts, was still in her early twenties when she became a member of the Vienna Philharmonic, an orchestra undoubtedly among the greatest in the world. Since joining the Vienna Philharmonic she has also continued to pursue a career as a concerto soloist and recitalist, appearing at such venues as Wigmore Hall in London, Carnegie Hall in New York, the Salle Gaveau in Paris, the Grosses Festspielhaus in Salzburg and Bozar in Brussels.
"I feel truly honoured to be joining Warner Classics’ wonderful roster of artists and to enter into an exclusive collaboration with a label that advocates highest quality and artistry," said Lenaerts. "It represents a new milestone in my career and will allow me to share my passion for music with even more people. I’m very much looking forward to creating some beautiful and innovative recordings together!"
“We are delighted to welcome Anneleen Lenaerts to Warner Classics as an exclusive artist,” added Jean-Philippe Rolland, Executive Vice-President International A&R and Business Development of Warner Classics & Erato, “and to add an outstanding harpist to the label’s carefully chosen portfolio of instrumentalists. Anneleen makes a superb ambassador for the harp – not just in terms of her technique and musicianship, which are of the highest calibre, but in her imaginative and enterprising approach to repertoire.”
22 May 2015
Vienna Philharmonic principal harpist Anneleen Lenaerts releases concertos album
She's one of the very few women in the Vienna Philharmonic, and though only 27 years old, she's already been that top orchestra's principal harpist for five years.
Now Belgian virtuoso Anneleen Lenaerts teams with the Brussels Philharmonic and conductor Michel Tabachnik for her new album of harp concertos, including Joaquin Rodrigo's guitar favourite Concierto de Aranjuez arranged by the composer for harp and orchestra. "The Concierto de Aranjuez in Rodrigo’s arrangement for harp casts new light on his widely known guitar version," affirms Lenaerts.
"Glière’s concerto is very demanding technically, but I love how the romantic harp is allowed to shine in all its facets," she says of one of the best-known works for her instrument.
Less familiar to listeners is Joseph Jongen's lush Harp Concerto, written in 1944. "Without a doubt, Jongen is among the most important Belgian composers, with splendid pieces for the harp," explains Lenaerts. "He wrote these entirely for the harpist’s hand, as if he himself played the instrument. Mireille Flour commissioned Jongen to write this concerto, and she was the only one to record it until now. With the present recording I hope to return this work to the limelight."