Magazine article Gramophone

Karg-Elert: 'Wagner Operas for Harmonium and Plano'

Magazine article Gramophone

Karg-Elert: 'Wagner Operas for Harmonium and Plano'

Article excerpt

Karg-Elert

'Wagner Operas for Harmonium and Plano' Excerpts from Derfliegende Hollander, Gotterdammerung, Lohengrin, Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, Parsifal, Tannhauser, Tristan und Isolde and Die Walkure Jan Hennig harmonium Ernst Breidenbach pf

Pan Classics (F) PC10335 (70' * DDD)

Here are 12 more or less self-contained extracts from Wagner's operas arranged for harmonium and piano duet by Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933). And played not on any old harmonium such as you might encounter in a run-down Victorian chapel but an 18-stop 1928 Victor Mustel Kunstharmonium (art-harmonium). There are 30 of these Karg-Elert Wagner transcriptions for harmonium and piano (plus 40 for organ and a further 40 for harmonium alone). One hopes the fee was a good one and wonders what the sales figures were. Astonishingly, so Pan Classics' informative booklet reveals, the original commission was for Karg-Elert to adapt all (!) of Wagner's operas for harmonium solo, harmonium and piano duo and other harmonium ensembles (eventually, it seems, both Karg-Elert and his publishers agreed that this was probably not a good idea).

By any standard, then, this is a repertoire curiosity and unlikely to be a best-seller; but any cynicism is soon dispelled, first by the sensitive, accomplished musicianship of Jan Hennig and Ernst Breidenbach, and secondly because the two instruments blend together so surprisingly well. …

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