Instrument

Emmanuel Ceysson plays a Salzedo model dated 2010 by Lyon and Healy, made in their historic Chicago factory.

http://www.lyonhealy.com

Its sonority, at once rounded and clear, and its unique power and projection make it Emmanuel’s instrument of choice:

‘The first time I played a Salzedo was in 2008, in Chicago, when I was choosing a new harp for the Orchestra of the Opéra National of Paris. I was struck by its amplitude and volume of sound, and I quickly realised that the Salzedo would permit me to set myself still higher standards. Even playing at full power, the instrument radiated perfect serenity and retained its extraordinary sound quality. I must admit that after having played it a few times, I found it very hard to do without it in my practice sessions and concerts . . . Quite apart from the musical qualities of the instrument, I was also attracted by the life-story and the values of the man with whom it is associated, and by its atypical design: its geometric lines and clean angles suggest a certain masculinity, a strength of character that I lay claim to in my own music-making.’

The gilts, acanthi and other typical embellishments of the Victorian era give way to geometric angles and lines in light maple wood, in the purest Art Deco style. The instrument is designed around the figure 5, Salzedo’s favourite number: the column and base are divided into five, and five hand-painted red and silver stripes decorate either side of the string plane on the soundboard.

The harpist, pianist, conductor and composer Carlos Salzedo was one of the key figures of the classical harp in the modern period, a peerless musician, ‘never subordinating the music to the instrument he played’ according to his friend and fellow-composer Edgar Varèse. His desire for modernity and wish to update the old-fashioned image of the harp led him to conceive this design for ‘a true twentieth-century harp’ in 1928, in collaboration with the artist Witold Gordon.