Karg-Elert: Wagner opera transcriptions

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COMPOSERS: Karg-Elert
LABELS: CPO
WORKS: Wagner opera transcriptions
PERFORMER: Johannes Matthias Michel (harmonium)
CATALOGUE NO: 999 523-2
If the idea of Wagnerian bleeding chunks on a harmonium sounds implausible, it’s worth bearing in mind that this was one of the prime vehicles for the popularisation of operas in the pre-recording era. Karg-Elert was a virtuoso on the instrument and composed much for it. Johannes Matthias Michel, playing a 1913 harmonium d’art, faithfully recreates such lyrical numbers as Walther’s Prize Song (Die Meistersinger), Rienzi’s Prayer and Wolfram’s Hymn to the Evening Star (Tannhäuser), and the Eucharist music from Parsifal sounds appropriately religiose. However, in the big orchestral set-pieces such as the Tristan Prelude and the Immolation Scene from Götterdämmerung, Michel’s harmonium fails to rise to the occasion, while in Siegfried’s Funeral March, the hero’s dignity barely survives intact. Specialist interest only. Barry Millington

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