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August KLUGHARDT (1847-1902)
Konzert-Ouverture G-Dur fur Orchester Op. 45 (1884)
Konzerstück for Oboe und Orchester Op. 18 (1870)
Cello Concerto in A minor Op. 59 (1894)
Auf der wanderschaft - Suite for Orchester Op. 67 (1896)
Rolf-Julius Koch (Konzertstück)
Horst Beckedorf (cello)
NDR Radiophilharmonie (all except Konzertstück)
WDR Rundfunkorchester Köln/Curt Cremer (Konzertstück)
conductor: Will Steiner (overture, suite); Curt Cremer (oboe); Hans Herbert Joeris (cello)
Recorded NDR 17 Apr 1975 (Overture), 23 Apr 1980 (Cello concerto), 15-16 Apr 1975 (Suite); WDR 10 Jan 1979 (Oboe).
STERLING CDS-1054-2 [55.15]

Born in Cöthen in 1847 Klughardt’s life was suffused in musicality. A piano soloist at sixteen (Mendelssohn’s G minor no less) his studies took him to Dresden and to his teachers Blassmann and Reichel - with whom he studied counterpoint. His early twenties saw him on the move as a provincial conductor – he took a number of successive posts around the country – whilst also keeping up the piano. But it was composition that occupied him more and more and the early grounding in Schumann became, over time, augmented by admiration for Liszt, whom Klughardt knew, and Wagner, whom he met at the first performance of Liszt’s Christus. Though he was later to enshrine elements of Liszt’s tone poems in his own works – which include a large number of piano miniatures, two symphonies, a violin concert and a raft of chamber works – the pieces on this disc, all derived from radio performances, reflect much more the early rusticities of his Schumannesque musical persona.

These are all attractive, well crafted and constructed with surety. They are also attractively lyrical and ardent in a definably restrained way. There are no undiscovered masterpieces but equally there are some attractive discoveries. The Konzert-Ouverture has some fine hieratic mountain top horn calls, some moments of contrapuntal confidence (shades of Reichel) and plenty of nature poetry from the School of Schumann – plenty of zest, plenty of good, honest orchestration. The Konzerstück for Oboe and Orchestra is a generous, verdant nine-minute affair, if somewhat conventional in actual layout. There’s certainly room for attractive cantilena in the slow section and the puckish oboe figures – contrasted with the rather phlegmatic orchestral responses – enliven the finale. The Cello Concerto is, in the spirit of the times, a single movement, and multi-sectional one lasting eighteen minutes. It was premiered by Julius Klengel in Dresden in 1894, the composer conducting. Klengel was, with Hugo Becker, the leading cellist in Germany and one of the most significant string players of the day and it was a signal honour for the composer. Klengel was also principal cellist of the Gewandhaus, a position he held for not far short of forty-five years – maybe Klughardt’s early Dresden connections paid off. The work is decidedly Schumannesque, full of eloquent lyricism with a tune so delicious that Klughardt reprises it almost immediately, this time varnished by pizzicati lower orchestral stings – a miscalculation but an understandable one; if you write a tune that good you want to hear it again. It would have been better, though, to have embedded it as reminiscence at the end of the work.

Auf der wanderschaft is a six-movement suite of a decidedly verdant kind. There’s plenty of nature painting in the opener, avian winds, sturdy horn calls, all forest and stream. Der Jäger, the fourth movement, is especially vibrant – hunting horns this time and bird calls in sprightly collision. There’s a big boned waltz as well – let’s not forget the dance floor – that leads straight into the Gute nacht final movement; wistful, explicitly Dvořákian and full of wind tracery. The Schumann melos is still with us here though, warmly affectionate and ever lyrical.

The recordings are getting on a little but they sound quite acceptable. If your fancy leads you to the fringes of the Romantic repertoire – don’t expect Brahms, much less Bruckner – I think you will find Klughardt congenial company.

Jonathan Woolf



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