Fantasien

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COMPOSERS: JS Bach; CPE Bach; Brahms; Mozart; Walter-Kühne and Rénie
LABELS: Linn CKD 441
ALBUM TITLE: Fantasien
WORKS: Transcriptions of works by JS Bach, CPE Bach, Brahms, Mozart; plus works by Walter-Kühne and Rénie
PERFORMER: Sivian Magen (harp)
CATALOGUE NO: CKD 441 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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‘The harp has always been an instrument of fantasy,’ writes Sivan Magen in his booklet note. Therein lies the interpretative key to this captivating recital, mostly of his own arrangements. Rather than following the modern tendency towards structural absolutism, Magen uses every means at his disposal to create a compelling emotional narrative that draws the ear irresistibly on.

In the wrong hands CPE Bach’s H277 Fantasy can easily disintegrate into series of rhetorical gestures, but Magen takes us into a rarefied dreamworld of magical colours and dynamic shadings that creates the strange impression of the notes floating free of musical gravity. The same is true of his micro-sensitive accounts of four pieces from Brahms’s Opp. 116 and 117, so poetically soothing as to make the piano originals appear almost unwieldy by comparison.

By way of contrast, Magen also includes two spectaculars by harp legends Ekaterina Walter-Kühne and Henriette Renié that shimmer and glow as if emerging from some distant heat haze.

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Julian Haylock