"Dream Season: The Christmas Harp," notwithstanding audiophiles' praises, is a disappointing effort by renowned harpist Yolanda Kondonassis. The brevity of the Christmas carol selections and the injudicious inclusion of percussionist Jurij Konje conspire to defeat the potential charm a Kondonassis Yuletide album may have offered. The CD begins inauspiciously with 20 seconds of what I first perceived as being white noise, but later came to realize was actually wind effect (courtesy of Mr. Konje). The melody of "Carol of the Bells" engages at the 54 second mark and is soon accompanied by what sounds like wind chimes in an errant breeze (again, Mr. Konje). This first selection ends a full 6 seconds before the track listing time, giving us a harp performance with a distracting percussion accompaniment of 1:31 ~ huh?
Sadly, there are further examples on the album of a talented harpist unnecessarily burdened with the supposed bells and whistles of an accompanying percussionist. "Silent Night" is an egregious ambient/New Age arrangement by Jurij Konje, which sidelines the hesitant harp performance as mere accompaniment to the featured Konje soundscape. Drums are conspicuously heard on two of the albums selections: "Do You Hear What I Hear?," and "Huron Indian Carol." The former (again, introduced by Mr. Konje's wind) is given an uncomfortable martial air, and the latter a ceremonious tribal beat.
There are some lovely selections to be had on "Dream Season," though: the hauntingly beautiful, yet brief, "We Three Kings of Orient Are," and the hypnotic "Greensleeves." However, these fail to redeem the album as a whole. "Dream Season: The Christmas Harp" may provide a small treasure of aural pleasure for the audiophile, but for the harp fan this CD may prove to be a disappointment.
From the liner notes ~ "Percussion instruments used on this recording are: crotales, chimes, glockenspiel, vibraphone, wind/water drum, taos drum, snare drum, wood rattles, cymbals, triangles, brass bells, and silver sparkles."
1) Ukranian Bell Carol 2:31
2) Greensleeves 3:09
3) Ave Maria 2:57
4) The First Noel 1:46
5) God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen 2:21
6) Do You Hear What I Hear? 3:43
7) We Three Kings of Orient Are 1:55
8) O Sleep, My Pretty Baby 2:30
9) I Wonder As I Wander 2:44
10) Silent Night 2:28
11) Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella 2:42
12) O Little Town of Bethlehem 2:21
13) Coventry Carol 2:35
14) Short Fantasy on a Neapolitan Carol 1:29
15) Huron Indian Carol 2:19
16) Masters in This Hall 1:43
17) Angels We Have Heard on High 2:27
18) O Come, O Come Emmanuel 2:13
19) Still, Still, Still 1:51
20) Dream Season 3:52