Lavinia Meijer is a 30-year-old Dutch harpist who has already made quite a name for herself in the world of classical music. In fact, she appears poised to cross over into the mainstream with her new album, Metamorphosis, The Hours. The recording features Meijer’s interpretations of the music of Philip Glass, and has already been certified Gold in The Netherlands. She may very well duplicate that success in the much larger market of the United States.
Meijer’s decision to interpret the music of Philip Glass was inspired. Not only has Glass himself made the leap from the classical “ghetto,“ but his compositions provide a marvelous showcase for her playing. Along with other late-20th century composers such as Steve Reich and Terry Riley, Glass has been called a pioneer of the “minimalism” school of music. As the name implies, minimalism strips the compositions down to their essentials. This removes what we might consider instrumental “embellishments.“ Ironically enough, the harp is just such an instrument, as it is often used to amplify the orchestral sound.
The solos in Glass’ compositions are generally written for piano, and it is those that Meijer transcribes and plays here. Since the piano originally carried the pieces, they provide a marvelous showcase for her harp.
Although the title of the disc only mentions “Metamorphosis” and “The Hours,” the album features a third composition as well. The first track is “Opening Piece” from Glassworks. It is a splendid introductory choice. While obviously taken out of context, “Opening Piece” still fulfills its original role as… well, the opening piece. Hearing the harp in the role of solo instrument is a little unusual at first, but Meijer’s use of “Opening Piece” does an effective job of preparing us for what follows.