Friday, July 27, 2012

Sigfrid Karg-Elert Totentanz

Another wonderful display of volume control and skilled use of stops.

Sigfrid Karg-Elert: Vorüber für Kunstharmonium

Sigfrid Karg-Elert, more than any of the other composers posted here this week,  devoted himself to the possibilities of the harmonium as it developed into its most massive forms, the "Art Harmoniums".  He clearly  was attracted by the possibilities of volume control and  Balázs Szabó does an amazing job of bringing that out in this performance.  There are clear influences of late romantic German composers as well as Debussy in his music.    He's another of those composers whose music could do with a revival, it was far from trivial.

Georges Bizet : Ronde Turque

As far as can be gathered from my far from perfect reading of the Italian,  this piece is played on a harmonium that also was a celeste.   The large array of stops shown on the video gives some idea of how the reed organ in the late 19th and early 20th century seems to have been a predecessor of the synthesizer,  giving the player a large number of sounds to work, or play, within a package that could be moved  around and which fit in the home.   Maybe that has something to do with why it declined as the focus of serious composers as much as the changing aesthetics of the time.  Maybe it became too much of a good thing?   Later today I'll post a piece from a composer who did more with those possibilities than just about any other composer who wrote for harmonium.

These and many of the other pieces I'm posting this week are available in the IMSLP music library online.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Georges Bizet Caprice

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Arthur Bird: Adagio

This is from the You Tube channel of musicman7nc, whose obvious expertise in the reed organ and harmonium extends to playing the music written for it quite well.  He is quite skilled in the of the use of the pedals to vary wind supply as a means of expression.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

César Franck- Prélude,Fugue et Variation Op.18 Harmonium & Piano

A very rarely heard transcription that Franck made of his op.18 piece for organ.   The harmonium gives the piece an intimate and sad feeling that the organ solo doesn't.   The piano from Franck's own time adds a feeling of fragility.   Quite beautiful.   Got no idea what the temple has to do with it.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Arthur Bird : Improvisato

July 23 is Arthur Bird's birthday

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Arthur Bird : Auf Dem Lande

Arthur Bird (1856-1920) is a composer I'd know from a single hearing of a piece for wind ensemble about thirty years ago.   It made enough of an impression on me that I'd periodically looked for sheet music of his work and had looked up the scant information available on his life.   Thanks to YouTube you can now hear more of his work.   Bird was an expert contrapuntal composer of high romantic music with a distinctive voice.   One of the reasons he's available on YouTube is that he was one of a small number of composers who wrote serious art music for the harmonium.   Here is a piece played by Artis Wodehouse on the exact model of Mason and Hamlin he wrote it for.  

You can read the music for this piece and several others I will be posting here

Interruption of Service

Later this week I will begin a period away from blogging and blog commenting due to a sudden, unexpected health problem.

I will post those things I'd already prepared.

UPDATE:  My break has been cancelled.