Sivan Magen - Fantasien -

This new SACD from the young Israeli harpist Sivan Magen demonstrates the marvellous range of sonorities and expressive possibilities that can be obtained from the modern double action pedal harp in the hands of a virtuoso performer like Magen.

The imaginative choice of music on this recording spans three centuries; from CP E Bach - whose tercentenary is being celebrated this year - to the French harp virtuoso and composer Henriette Renié (1875-1956). While most of the items on the disc are arrangements by Sivan Magen of familiar works for keyboard, those by Ekaterina Walter-Kühne and Renié are original compositions.

The disc opens with an arrangement of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's fantasy in E flat major that demonstrates wide ranging tone colour in Magen's playing, and this is followed by four Intermezzi taken from Brahms late piano works Opus 116 and 117. The delicacy and wistful melancholy of these lovely intermezzi seem to suit the harp perfectly and Magan's arrangements are both apt and tasteful. The level of this artist's virtuosity and immaculate technical control is further confirmed by his performances of the familiar Mozart and Bach Fantasias that follow.

Two of the items on the disc are especially enjoyable. The first is the 'Fantasia on Themes from Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin' for solo harp. This is the work of the distinguished Russian harpist Ekaterina Walter-Kühne. It was published in 1909 and is one of a number of fantasies on popular operas of the day that Ekaterina Walter-Kühne wrote for the instrument. The second is the 'Ballade fantastique d'après Le Coeur révélateur d'Edgar Poe' by Henriette Renié whose literary interests inspired this unusual and technically challenging piece of programme music in 1913.

This recital was recorded in the commodious acoustic of the Menuhin Hall of the Yehudi Menuhin School in Surrey. Philip Hobbs's engineering produces a realistic image of the soloist and for the most part avoids the capture of unwanted mechanical noise from the instrument. Excellent liner notes from Alexander Rider complement this release.

Without doubt Sivan Magen's fine musicianship and scintillating performances on this disc will further enhance this artist's burgeoning reputation.
06 March 2014