Alphonse Hasselmans: La Source
Translated into ‘The Well Spring’, Alphonse Hasselmans’ (1845-1912) La Source is one of the many works he composed for pedal harp. After studying harp performance composition in Strasbourg, Hasselmans went on to be a Professor of Harp at the Paris Conservatoire. Hasselmans played a major part in reviving the interest in the harp during the end of the nineteenth century, and his technical studies and small works for the instrument are usually found in any advanced harp player’s repertoire.
Composed in 1898, La Source is a deceivingly difficult concert etude for solo harp. Based on cascading semiquavers, La Source shows the heavenly side of the harp. The quick tempo changes and intricate finger work make this etude very tricky to master. The subtle dynamic changes are really nuanced and as Hasselmans changes the rhythms every few bars, the dynamic also changes. The constant flow of sound adds to the beautiful trickling effect that Hasselmans was aiming for, which is really easy on the ear for the listener. As the rhythms become demisemiquavers, the flow becomes more intense as the soloists fingers are required to move much faster.
As the harp reaches its upper ranges and glissandos down the opening theme is reprised once more. As the title suggests, La Source depicts a fresh Spring scene, with trickling water, green grass and sprouting flowers. The delicate sound of the harp highlights this effectively and adds to the overall effect of the piece. A huge scalic run down to the bottom range concludes this concert etude delicately.
Ⓒ Alex Burns