Ralphus | Goyang, Gynggi-Do Korea (South) | 12/16/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If you don't want to sell many copies of a CD, then record an album devoted entirely to unaccompanied saxophone playing studies by an obscure Hindemith-influenced 20th century German composer.
Namely, Sigfrid Karg-Elert. The booklet notes are ample and very informative if, like me, you know very little about this composer. He seems to have been an unusual man. Apparently, his biography is difficult to fathom because he fabricated and changed his story so often that factual information about him is hard to gather. His 'fame' rests mainly on his organ music, several discs of which are available. His publisher was a harmonium enthusiast whose firm was set up primarily for music for that instrument, so Karg-Elert was coerced into writing many works for that particular instrument too.
Actually, though, this is quite an interesting disc--if you're a saxophonist, that is. Karg-Elert's studies (like Koechlin's Etudes, like the best studies) are quite appealing works. The opus 153I set of 25 Caprices and a 4-movement unaccompanied Sonata covers a wide range of styles so it isn't as boring and academic as could be assumed. Christian Peters chooses to play the caprices variously on soprano, alto, tenor, or baritone as the instrumentation was left open for performers by the composer. Karg-Elert 'suggested' that some of the Caprices would be best for soprano, and Peters adheres to his wishes. The Sonata was intended for alto.
Peters' playing is fine and he deserves praise for such a 'brave', marginal release, as does the enterprising MDG label. In a crowded field of recordings of the Ibert Concertino, Debussy Rapsodie, Milhaud Scaramouche and other classical sax standards, it's very pleasing to find such interesting music as this available on CD.
For saxophonists learning these works, and for classical saxophonists in general, this is a recommended disc."