The Austrian Herzogenberg was of noble birth.
His title was Baron von Herzogenberg-Peccadue. He studied at
the Vienna Conservatory and worked there and at Graz and later
at Leipzig. His wife was Elisabeth von Stockhausen, an accomplished
amateur pianist who had been a pupil of Brahms. Both husband
and wife were on close terms with Brahms. Ethel Smyth was a
pupil of Herzogenberg.
I am told that there
are eight symphonies in total. These two were written under
the Brahmsian spell not that they are submissive style-copies.
Even so the First Symphony counterpoints it Brahmsian sobriety
with a gauzy romantic intimations from Berlioz. The music proceeds
as a lively blend of Brahms symphonies 1 and 4 and is not averse
to hoarsely shuddering splendours. At times thunder and lightning
crash and flash across a louring sky in the first movement.
After a gentle second the third carries echoes of Schumann and
Schubert. A pounding Brucknerian scherzo appears to be sublimated
into the plot but there is yet time for pastoral wit and charm.
The finale again carries in its discursive slipstream the exultant
mark of Brahms 4 and celebratory Schumann Rhenish. The
Second Symphony is shorter yet still substantial. It opens with
a confident yet genteel sauntering theme akin to similar moments
in Brhams 2 and 3. Later there are distinct currents from the
more paradisiacal pages of Beethoven’s Fifth and festive moments
from Goldmark. The quicker music in the latter movements has
a beguilingly accented Mussulman sway – the alla Turca fashion
had not quite finished.
CPO have done sterling
work for Herzogenberg so I hope you might also take an interest
CPO 999 372-2 Missa op. 87 in
CPO 999 625-2 Three cello sonatas
CPO 999 765-2 Piano Quartet op.
75, String Trio op. 27/1
CPO 999 710-2 Piano Quartet op.
95, String Trio op. 27/2
Another not inconsiderable entry
in the history of German romantic symphonic music.