Duo Scorpio – Scorpion Tales

Duo Scorpio
Kathryn Andrews | Kristi Shade

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Scorpion Tales is Duo Scorpio's debut release. It contains a unique selection of modern masterpieces and new works for harp duo, including Le Jardin Des Paons and Parvis by Bernard Andres, Raga by Carolyn Lizotte, and world premiere recordings of Crossfade by Sebastian Currier, Scorpion Tales by Robert Paterson (commissioned by Duo Scorpio and the American Harp Society) and Unfurl by Stephen Andrew Taylor. Each work explores the rich sound world created by two harps, and the entire album was produced by Grammy winning recording engineer Adam Abeshouse.

The formation of Duo Scorpio is as fascinating as the album: harpists Kathryn Andrews and Kristi Shade were born on exactly the same day, November 5, 1982, making them both Scorpios; they both moved to New York City after undergraduate school, completed their Master's Degrees at The Manhattan School of Music and studied with harp legend Susan Jolles. Scorpios are known for their determination, hard work and love of a challenge, which is definitely exemplified in this stunning debut album. Further information: duoscorpio.com. Click here for a high-res version of the album cover image.

Track Descriptions

1. Le Jardin des Paons (The Garden of Peacocks) is by Bernard Andres, one of the world's greatest living composers of harp music.
2-4. Scorpion Tales, the title track, is inspired by hot peppers, music from Trinidad, the mating rituals of scorpions and the battle between Orion and a scorpion.
5. Raga by Canadian composer Carolyn Lizotte is based on the sonic world of traditional music from India. In this work, they play finger cymbals, various other percussion instruments and even stamp their feet with ankle bells, all while striking and scraping the strings of their instruments with SuperBall mallets.
6. Crossfade is by Grawemeyer Award winning composer Sebastian Currier.
7. Unfurl is a work for two quarter-tone tuned harps by Stephen Taylor.
8. Parvis by Bernard Andres is one of his most popular works, and a staple in the harp repertoire.

Total Time: 58:39

Scorpio Duo manages to make harp playing sound easy… Absolutely sublime.
— Alison Young, Harp Column Magazine
With Scorpion Tales, Duo Scorpio doesn’t require you to set aside all of your wedding prelude and garden party images of the harp before you hit play, but they are going to stretch those sonic ideas out of whack once things get going… If there was actually any question at the outset that the harp was the instrument of angels, fairies, and cocktail receptions, Andrews and Shade will likely have erased that notion by the close of the album… Scorpion Tales is a showcase of the way contemporary composers are finding their music within its timbral compass, and it’s likely to leave music makers and fans inspired to seek out more. I suspect Duo Scorpio will consider that appraisal mission accomplished.
— Molly Sheridan, NewMusicBox
Scorpion Tales has me thinking a lot more about this ensemble and this particular duo. Kathryn Andrews and Kristi Shade deliver stellar performances throughout the disc… Duo Scorpio makes it all seem completely natural and idiomatic.
— Jay Batzner, Sequenza21
Much as the harp has been celebrated for its angelic sound, it’s also been a staple of horror movies. The rather ominously named Duo Scorpio transcend any preconceptions about harp music, whether heavenly or horrible (they are capable of both and everything in between) on their debut album. Virtuosos Kathryn Andrews and Kristi Shade share a birthday, November 5 (hence the ensemble name), a vivid chemistry and a strong attunement to emotional content throughout an exciting, diverse mix of new and recent compositions that push the limits of what can be done with the instrument. With its ambitious scope, energy and extended technique (percussive effects, rubbed and muted strings and more), it often evokes the similarly pioneering work of Bridget Kibbey. You might not expect a recording for harp to be as much of a fun ride as this one is.
— Lucid Culture/New York Music Daily