German pianist Wolf Harden is one of those ubiquitous musicians who appears on numerous recordings either as a recitalist or a chamber music player. He has regularly performed as a member of the Trio Fontenay since 1980, and with this ensemble has made many concert appearances and recordings. While a significant portion of Harden's broad repertory, at least on recordings, has been in lesser-known fare, he has appeared in numerous major projects on CD: three volumes of J.S. Bach Partitas, chamber music of Mozart (sonatas for piano and violin), and trios by Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Dvorák, Fauré, Debussy, Ives, and others. Despite Harden's considerable work in mainstream repertory, it may well be that his most important contribution thus far has been his championing of the solo piano music of Busoni, Dohnányi, Lehár, and other neglected composers or composers not usually associated with piano music. Harden has recorded for a variety of labels, including Naxos, Philips, CPO, EMI, Denon, and Teldec.
Wolf Harden was born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1962. His first teacher was his father, a pianist, musicologist, and piano teacher. Harden was trained at the Detmold Music Academy, but by age 18 was already active as a performer, appearing regularly with the Trio Fontenay, which he co-founded in 1980. From that year through the first decade of the new century Harden has appeared with the group in Europe, the Americas, and Asia.
Harden also managed to develop a successful career as a solo artist. In 1982 he debuted in Berlin with great success, and the following year made his first recording, the Liszt Dante Sonata. Numerous successful recordings would soon follow, both as recitalist (Schumann's Humoreske for Naxos in 1985) and as pianist with Trio Fontenay (the complete Brahms and Dvorák trios for Teldec from 1987-1990).
In the 1995-1996 season he and the Fontenay players performed the complete Beethoven piano trios in Paris, London, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, and Cologne. Despite this kind of activity, Harden was able to successfully balance his dual careers, often carrying a heavy schedule of concerts as a recitalist/soloist, as well.
By 2007 Harden's discography had run to well over 50 discs and included such disparate repertory as Pfitzner's Piano Concerto (Naxos; 1992), Beethoven's folk song arrangements with the Trio Fontenay (Polygram Records; 1998), and Vols. 3-5 of the complete piano music of Ferruccio Busoni (Naxos; 2007-2009).