Engelbert Humperdinck (1854–1921) Pictures from Hansel and Gretel
arranged by Philipp Matthias Kaufmann [winds,db]
A musical fairytale
In 2015 Philipp Matthias Kaufmann was commissioned to write an arrangement for chamber ensemble with motifs of Humperdinck’s famous opera. While the instrumentation offered a variety of possibilities soundwise, with the required 7 minutes playing time it was a challenging task for him to confine the arrangement to just a few motifs. Kaufmann chose a dramaturgic coherence for his arrangement; a “pocket-sized” instrumental fairytale was the result.
Based on a version of the beautiful overture, the children’s songs of the cheerful siblings Hansel and Gretel are played. Then, their father comes home, half-drunk to bear his life in poverty. For the sake of brevity, this is directly followed by the rumbling Witch’s Ride. The gruff lady is then carefully stowed away in her oven, which leads to the jubilant finale.
As an extract from a grand work, this arrangement does indeed have a charming impact, for Humperdinck’s ideas can stand this kind of abridgement quite easily.