Ulrich Herkenhoff – Panpipes Recital – Works of BACH, MOZART, DEBUSSY, ROZSA, SVENDSEN, GENZMER – Ulrich Herkenhoff, pan flute/ Matthias Keller, piano – Oehms Classics

by | Aug 1, 2007 | SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Ulrich Herkenhoff – Panpipes Recital – Works of BACH, MOZART, DEBUSSY, ROZSA, SVENDSEN, GENZMER – Ulrich Herkenhoff, pan flute/ Matthias Keller, piano – Oehms Classics Multichannel SACD OC 610, 56:46 {Distr. by Forte] ****:

This may well be the one and only panpipes SACD and is very welcome for those of us captivated by the atmospheric, ethereal sound of this simple instrument whose origin goes back to Greek myths. Like another very simple wind instrument – the Shakuhachi – the panpipes may be primitive in design, but it takes a great virtuoso to play them with expertise.  Herkenhoff decided at age 14 to become a pan flute performer and he studied with Gheorghe Zamfir – who had made a series of CDs for Philips similar to the program on this disc, as well as doing many New Age and MOR albums. Not only has Herkenhoff become a virtuoso artist on the folk instrument, but he also builds them himself, does transcriptions for them, and is engaged in publishing and teaching.

The pan flute is closely connected to Roumanian folk culture, but the only work here approaching that would be Miklos Rozsa’s folkish North Hungarian Peasant Songs and Dances, a short four-movement work originally for violin and piano. Bach’s Concerto in C for flute and keyboard was transcribed from his Sonata in A Major BWV 1032, and makes a fine starting point for the concert.  It reminded me a bit of the wonderful Bach-on-the-harmonica LP by John Sebastian the elder. There’s a Mozart Sonata, a Romance by Svendsen, and a recently-composed pan flute sonata composed especially for Herkenhoff by Harald Genzmer.  For me the highlight of the SACD were the three Debussy transcriptions: En Bateau, Le Petit Berger, and Clair de Lune.  Herkenhoff resisted doing Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun, probably because it wouldn’t work that well with just piano accompaniment, but the panpipe seems to make a synergistic combination with Debussy’s music in these works.

 – John Sunier

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