Maria Rosa Calvo-Manzanos is a fine harpist, and the harp is a beautiful instrument. The two together, however, need not add up to a very good program, and last night's harp recital at the Terrace Theater was mostly long. Imagine a sit-down dinner of nothing but bonbons, some of them rather cheap, and you have an idea of the flavor of the evening.
Much of the night was given to transcriptions, some in editions by Calvo-Manzanos herself. Works by Soler and Albeniz made the harp pose as a piano and a guitar, respectively. Sets of variations by Haydn and Mozart represented each composer's only scores for solo harp; the Haydn was slight, but the Mozart was slight and stylish. Here the harpist's phrasing was anachronistically romantic, an excusable stylistic quirk anywhere except where style must parade as substance.
The harp exposes every mistake as clearly as flaws in fine crystal; its colors can range from, say, yellow to gold; its repertory is limited and recitalists often rely on transcriptions to fill an evening. Much of last night's music would have been delightful in a friend's living room for a while. In a concert, it merely made a case for music as a background.