It’s a great honour to be asked to contribute a few words to introduce this splendid CD Wagner recital: Camiel Boomsma has rightly decided that Wagner’s original piano music simply does not do him justice. But there is an abundant literature – from Liszt, writing when Wagner’s ink was scarcely dry on the manuscript, to present-day composers and performers – of piano transcriptions, fantasies and paraphrases on Wagner’s greatest works. The tradition of the operatic fantasy, or of variations on operatic arias, is centuries old, and serves both as a mark of respect to the original composer, and also as a means to promulgate the original pieces. Wagner needs to further help of this sort; his position in the canon of the great is assured. However, there is much pleasure to be had from playing and hearing the great Wagner operas on the piano – and Wagner himself encouraged it!
Camiel Boomsma has assembled a magical programme of old and new, familiar and unknown Wagner arrangements which is as delightful as it is edifying.
Dr. Leslie Howard