Sigfrid Karg-Elert was one of the most prolific arrangers of music for harmonium, writing more than 530 transcriptions he regarded as a sideline to his own compositions. Among these were many transcriptions of Richard Wagner's music, including 30 pieces Karg-Elert arranged for harmonium and piano. This 2015 release from Deutschlandradio Kultur presents Jan Hennig on kunstharmonium (art harmonium, the instrument Karg-Elert preferred for its organ-like stops) and Ernst Breidenbach on piano in 12 arrangements of Wagner's best-known music, including selections from Tannhäuser, Lohengrin, Der fliegende Holländer, Parsifal, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Die Walküre, Götterdämmerung, and Tristan und Isolde. The sound of this combination is unusual by modern standards, but at the beginning of the 20th century it was quite popular, and it was one of the chief methods of performing music in homes that had both instruments. In the hands of Hennig and Breidenbach, the musicality of the performances overrides any sense of novelty or quaintness, and even though they clearly aren't substitutes for Wagner's orchestration, the harmonium and piano are versatile enough to communicate the expressions and dramatic contrasts of the original versions. The reproduction is quite clean and close-up, so both instruments are fully audible and ideally balanced in volume and tone.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Quintett "Selig wie die Sonne", transcription for harmonium & piano (after Wagner)
Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Marsch der Meistersinger, transcription for harmonium & piano (after Wagner)