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Sivan Magen - Fantasien - Gramophone

26 August 2014
Jeremy Nicholas

Another extended (12'36") and colourful work by Renié ends Sivan Magen's recital 'Fantasien'. Ballade fantastique, written in 1913 and based on Edgar Allan Poe's gothic The Tell-Tale Heart, is 'a highly ambitious example of programme music that helped free the harp from the unhelpful trappings of its salon repertory' (Alexander Riley's first-rate booklet). Magen begins with his own arrangement of CPE Bach's Fantasie in E flat, Wq58/6. Listening blind you would swear that it was simply a work from the standard harp repertoire that had previously escaped your notice; likewise Magen's arrangements of four Intermezzos by Brahms, who, in common with most major composers, wrote nothing for solo harp. These make up for the omission. I urge you to hear Magen playing Op 117 Nos 1 and 2- and Mozart's Fantasie in D minor, K397, a work surely indebted to CPE Bach. Harpophiles and bravurafanciers in general will not fail to fall for the Fantasie on Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin by the Russian harp virtuoso Ekaterina Walter-Kiihne (1870-1930). Magen seems destined to be the Zabaleta de nos jours, with a paintbox of colours allied to fabulous dexterity and nuanced phrasing. The recording (Philip Hobbs in The Menuhin Hall) has real presence and depth. 

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