Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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Arthur HARTMANN (1881-1956)
Miniatures for violin and piano
L’amour, valse bluette (1927) [2:40]
A Negro Croon (1916) [3:42]
Autumn in Hungary: Romance [3:46]
Nyiregyházi Emlék: Csardas (1905) [5:12]
Szomorúság (Tristesse): Rhapsodische Skizze [8:17]
Danse Grotesque (1907) [0:57]
Kossuth Lajos (1907) [3:03]
Esprit de Ravioli Polah (Souvenir d’une Soirée inoubliable)
La Tzigane (1927) [4:58]
La Coquette: Valse Intermezzo (1927) [3:17]
Tauga: A Bulgarian Sketch [2:53]
A Cradle Song [3:36]
Beau Soir (1910) [2:29]
Préludes - Book 1: No. 8, La fille aux cheveux de lin (1910)
Il pleure dans mon cœur (1908) [3:09]
Edward MACDOWELL (1860-1908)
To a Wild Rose, Op. 51 No. 1 [3:24]
Solomia Soroka (violin)
Arthur Greene (piano)
rec. May 2007, Hart Recital Hall, Lansing, Michigan
TOCC 0089 [71:58]
Arthur Hartmann is best known for his association with Debussy and the marvellous transcriptions he wrote of La fille aux cheveux de lin, Beau Soir and others. Philadelphia-born in 1881 he was quite a character claiming Hungarian birth - he was at least of Hungarian origin - and apologizing for his poor English in interviews in his native country. But he did work with Loeffler and then with Ysaÿe, before beginning his career as soloist ands recitalist, and later still as leader of his string quartet. Around 1929 his career trailed off. He died of a stroke in 1956 at the age of 75. I’ve only been able to trace a single recording by Hartmann - one of Nachez’s Danse Tzigane, rather appropriately, on a Rex 78. It would be fascinating to hear it.
As a composer of miniatures he stands, as do so many, in Kreisler’s shadow, which is not to say that the pieces lack individuality or energetic pleasure. They possess both, fortunately. There’s for example the gentle sweetmeat waltz L’amour, valse bluette and something possibly influenced by fellow American fiddler, Maud Powell’s explorations in this sort of area, A Negro Croon. Naturally he mined a vein of Hungarian music, which varies in intensity and authenticity. Autumn in Hungary: Romance for example is a nostalgic reverie very lightly dappled with paprika, whereas Nyiregyházi Emlék: Csardas is a more typically energetic number with two naughty quotations from Beethoven’s Violin Concerto - the second presumably in case you’d missed the first. Gypsy violinistics inhabit Tauga.
Szomorúság (Tristesse): Rhapsodische Skizze was dedicated to Kreisler and is on a more expansive expressive canvass, but an over extended one. In the main these pieces are avuncular and unpretentious. There are salon charmers (the Caprice and the Valse), hints of klezmer in the Danse Grotesque and some Hubay influence in Kossuth Lajos. There are hints of melancholia too, thought not very many - for a slice of it try Bogdan...but Hartmann’s freewheeling side can run away with him, as it does in the unpublished, and loquacious mouthful that is Esprit de Ravioli Polah (Souvenir d’une Soirée inoubliable). To show that Hartmann’s influences were not restricted to this particular geographical region we can hear hints of impressionism in something like Prayer, as well as the more expected Kreisleresque impress of La Tzigane.
The famous transcriptions are here though the booklet’s claim that his transcription of MacDowell’s To A Wild Rose is receiving its first ever recording is not true. Eddy Brown, Hartmann’s Auer-trained American contemporary, recorded it twice on 78s.
Throughout, the performances are warm, sympathetic and very well recorded. Solomia Soroka displays elegance and refinement in the Debussy transcriptions - though she lacks Thibaud’s Gallic sensuality in La fille - and elsewhere digs in with abandon and force. The ensemble between her and Arthur Greene, a husband and wife team, is splendid. The booklet note is absolutely first class and entertainingly written.
Gerard Hoffnung CDs
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