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J.P.E. HARTMANN (1805-1900)
Symphony No. 1 in G minor Op. 17 (1836) [31.08]
Symphony No. 2 in E major Op. 48 (1848) [37.34]
Danish National Radio SO/Thomas Dausgaard
rec. Danish Radio Concert Hall, 24-26 April, 20-22 May 1996 DDD
DACAPO 8.224042


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These are symphonies in a style evolved from Mendelssohn and cross-fertilised with the wild romantic urgings of Schumann. One can hear where Peter Lange-Müller might have drawn some of his inspiration (see my review of the ClassicO CD of the two Lange-Müller symphonies from one or two decades after these Hartmann works).

The First Symphony declares its fealty to Weber and Schumann very early on. This is very fresh writing with limpid and inventive work for the woodwind especially the clarinet. This aspect reminded me of Berwald. There is also a restlessness about the music which sits oddly with its undoubted grace. The third movement has some Tchaikovskian accents - paralleled in the Suites rather than the symphonies. Another voice is that of Mendelssohn with a definite Nordic breeze and with floral romance. The Second Symphony starts wistfully again with strong Nordic flavour. This seems to presage Sibeliusís string writing in Rakastava mixed with Elgar's best regretful manner. The second movement carries hints of Grieg and the third includes a strolling promenade: witty and carefree. The finale is limber and athletic without being heaven-storming. I was reminded of the understated romance of Haakon Børresenís much later Second and Third Symphonies rather than his torridly Tchaikovskian First Symphony and Violin Concerto.

The notes are ample and all the technical dimensions are very well handled. A wonderfully refreshing disc of music with plenty of fantasy and hardly any grief or angst.

Rob Barnett

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