WORKS: Works for harmonium, Vol. 1: Impressions, Op. 102; Two Tone Poems, Op. 70; Fantasy and Fugue in D, Op. 39
PERFORMER: Johannes Matthias Michel (harmonium)
CATALOGUE NO: 999 522-2
For those readers already well acquainted with the suave, richly chromatic harmonic style of Karg-Elert through his organ music, these pieces will spring no surprises. But for those unfamiliar with his music, I urge them to sample this recording. I found the whole disc captivating. The sound of the instrument is utterly beguiling.
These are performances of great musical integrity by Johannes Matthias Michel, drawing the listener’s attention to the particular charms that this music holds. He achieves this by the simplest means: holding back slightly, then easing the music forward to sustain the suppleness of the rhythmical life.
There are several gems among the 12 programmatic ‘Impressions’ which form the main substance of the programme, including the gently melancholic ‘Savoyard’ and the quietly hymn-like ‘Klosterliche Melodie’, both given wonderfully evocative performances.
A well-crafted Prelude and Fugue and two virtuosic ‘Tone Poem’ Studies frame the recording, and complete what is a fascinating and rewarding disc. Stephen Haylett