Hartmann: Concerto funebre; Symphony No. 4; Chamber Concerto

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COMPOSERS: Hartmann
LABELS: ECM
WORKS: Concerto funebre; Symphony No. 4; Chamber Concerto
PERFORMER: Isabelle Faust (violin), Paul Meyer (clarinet); Petersen Quartet, Munich CO/Christoph Poppen
CATALOGUE NO: 465 779-2
Karl Amadeus Hartmann’s output has a mysterious archaeology. After 1945 he revised the majority of his works written before the war, removing their political references and often recasting them completely: the first five symphonies all originated in other genres. This very worthwhile collection contains one work that did survive in its pre-war state – the rhapsodic Chamber Concerto, which was completed in 1935 but not performed until 1969, six years after Hartmann’s death – alongside the strings-only Fourth Symphony of 1948, conceived a decade earlier as a concerto for soprano and orchestra, and the Concerto funebre, which was a 1959 transformation of Music of Mourning, Hartmann’s protest against the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1938.

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Between these distinct two periods in his development there was also a stylistic sea-change: in 1941-2 Hartmann studied with Webern, and the works he produced afterwards, though never strictly serial, are markedly more angular and expressionistic than their predecessors. There’s none of the folksy good humour of the Chamber Concerto to be found in the anguish of the Concerto funebre for instance, while the Bartókian rhythmic drive in parts of the Fourth Symphony carries a high level of dissonance with it. The integrity of the music remains unswerving, though, and if the Munich Chamber Orchestra’s performance of the Fourth Symphony does not match the emotional range of Ingo Metzmacher’s account in his recent collection of all the symphonies, they serve that truthfulness faithfully throughout. Andrew Clements