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Karg-Elert: Piano Works Vol 4 / Ernst Breidenbach


Release Date: 07/31/2007 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 999773   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Sigfrid Karg-Elert
Performer:  Ernst Breidenbach
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



KARG-ELERT Exotische Rhapsodie. Zwielicht-Impressionen. Heidebilder. 2 Klavierstücke, op. 22 . Nächtlicher Regen. Mosaik Ernst Breidenbach (pn) cpo 999773 (74:00)


Though Sigfrid Karg-Elert is considered, along with Max Reger, among the foremost 20th-century German composers for organ, one rarely encounters his music at piano recitals. This relative neglect is now being addressed by Ernst Breidenbach’s Read more traversal of Karg-Elert’s not insignificant body of piano music, the fourth volume of which is reviewed here. It features several sets of miniatures alongside an extended composition, the Exotische Rhapsodie.


The earliest of these pieces, the Zwei Klavierstücke, probably from 1902, are charming salon pieces. They are difficult enough to qualify as concert etudes and indeed, more than any of the other works presented here, suggest Karg-Elert’s formidable equipment as a pianist. Some of the loveliest music on this disc is to be found in the “ten small impressions” that constitute Heidebilder . In his frequent use of the whole tone scale, chord voicing, and choice of textures, Karg-Elert seems to evoke the spirit of Debussy in each piece.


Mosaik is a set of 29 didactic pieces, including a three-movement Sonatina, a five-movement Suite, and various character pieces, the majority of which are less than a minute’s duration. The 14-minute Exotische Rhapsodie is subtitled “Jungle Impressions,” and was apparently inspired by a 1916 adventure narrative by Waldemar Bonsel titled Indian Journey. Apart from one fleeting passage that might be construed as “jungle drums,” very little in the music seems to suggest a jungle in India or anywhere else. Perhaps Karg-Elert should have omitted the subtitle and dropped the adjective from the title and called it simply a rhapsody. It has a curiously fragmented quality, as though it were an extended improvisation.


Breidenbach makes a persuasive case for Karg-Elert. His technique is equal to the music’s demands and his intellectual grasp of the works secure. He is also a deft colorist with a wide dynamic range at his disposal. If the piano sound is occasionally aggressive, this may be due, I suspect, to overly bright voicing of the Kawai instrument Breidenbach uses, or perhaps to inordinately close microphone placement. Abstruse booklet notes by Marcus Imbsweiler and Breidenbach are further impaired by a stiff English translation.


FANFARE: Patrick Rucker
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Works on This Recording

1.
Exotische Rhapsodie, Op. 118 by Sigfrid Karg-Elert
Performer:  Ernst Breidenbach (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1917; Germany 
Venue:  Lazarus-Kirche, Nieder-Ramstadt, Germany 
Length: 14 Minutes 1 Secs. 
Notes: Lazarus-Kirche, Nieder-Ramstadt, Germany (01/09/2004 - 01/12/2004) 
2.
Zwielicht-Impressionen by Sigfrid Karg-Elert
Performer:  Ernst Breidenbach (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Germany 
3.
Heidebilder by Sigfrid Karg-Elert
Performer:  Ernst Breidenbach (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Germany 
4.
Klavierstücke (2), Op. 22 by Sigfrid Karg-Elert
Performer:  Ernst Breidenbach (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Germany 
5.
Nächtlicher Regen by Sigfrid Karg-Elert
Performer:  Ernst Breidenbach (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Germany 
6.
Mosaik by Sigfrid Karg-Elert
Performer:  Ernst Breidenbach (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: Germany 

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