Cutting-edge ensemble has new harp

Cutting-edge ensemble has new harp


norman lebrecht

November 03, 2018

Meet Valeria Kafelnikov, newly appointed harpist of the Ensemble Intercontemporain.



  • John Borstlap says:

    The Ensemble Contemptorain is not a ‘cutting-edge’ ensemble, but a very traditional, oldfashioned modernist ensemble, representing the ideas of ‘progress’ as conceived half a century ago, the same period that gave Paris the Centre Pompidou and the plans for the progressive quarter ‘La Défense’ – defense against what? Against the overwhelming presence of the past that Paris embodies. The ensemble is a time capsule from the futuristic past and as such a nice contribution to the variety of offerings in the concert field.

    • Ruben Greenberg says:

      John: They don’t just play “meta-music”, fortunately for them. They also play many of the great 20th Century Classics: Stravinsky, Ravel, Bartok, etc. It’s one of France’s top orchestral jobs money-wise.

      • John Borstlap says:

        That is then something more recent…. I have not kept track every day of what they are doing. And indeed that is good news, and will be greatly benefitting for both the players and the audience.

  • Luigi Nonono says:

    There’s nothing “nice” about their music.

  • Steve says:

    Norman, you should know that Ensemble Intercontemperain is not “cutting edge” as, to the best of my knowledge, it has never played any music by John Borstlap. A spokesperson for the orchestra said that this is because they consider his scores dull and repetitive. Most of us reserve this criticism for his comments on Slipped Disc.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Interesting…. ‘dull & repetitive’ is exactly how many people, including myself, find the average repertoire played by that ensemble. I thought the ensemble was specifically set up for that purpose, given the nature of Boulez’ works which figured so prominently on their programmes, and his tome with writings ‘Orientations’ (Harvard UP 1986). The freedom from musical tradition appeared to be not so exciting, after all, as had been hoped.

    • John Borstlap says:

      We often get here orders of JB’s CD’s by orchestral staff when they have auditions, they test that music on applicants to see whether they find it dull or repetitive, to weed-out the many unsuited, which saves a lot of time.


  • DB says:

    Great for Valeria! She’s an excellent harpist.