The Hartmanns are something
of a musical dynasty. Emil was the son of the composer J.P.E. Hartmann
(1805-1900) who was the grand-son of another composer Johann
Here neatly packaged
are three Mendelssohnian concertos each in three movements.
Emil wrote them over a fifteen year period. Other composers
suggest themselves to the listener from time to time including
Gade and Lange-Müller. The Violin Concerto has its Mephistophelian
and Lisztian moments in the outer movements and a general autumnal
overlay of Brahmsian succulence. Hartmann's own personality
comes across in the delightfully flighty violin line in the
Hartmann's links with
Germany were strong and his music enjoyed an enthusiastic following
there. Nevertheless the Cello Concerto has an indefinable
yet unmistakable Nordic folksy quality threaded through the
singing felicitous manner. I am not in favour of extracting
movements from complete pieces but the little Canzonetta
middle movement would work well in a mixed recital including
Dvořák's Silent Woods and the Tchaikovsky and Sibelius
miniatures for cello and orchestra. The finale is an enchanting
cheerful rondo in which the lightness of the writing is faithfully
caught in the buoyancy of the playing and in careful attention
to dynamic contrast. If you enjoy the Tchaikovsky Rococo
Variations you will love this piece. It was written for the cellist Friedrich Grützmacher.
The Piano Concerto,
written in Hartmann's last decade for the Agnes Hansen the sister
of the soloist Robert Hansen who had premiered the Cello Concerto.
The central movement is another Canzonetta and just as
memorable in its fragile delicacy as its Cello Concerto counterpart.
This work is much more indebted to Schumann and occasionally
in the fine and boisterous finale to Brahms' Second Piano Concerto.
There have been previous recordings of
all these items. The Violin Concerto is one of the thirty plus
in Danacord's wonderful Nordic concerto survey. The Cello Concerto
is coupled with other Romantic Danish Cello Concertos (Hamerik,
Neruda and Salomon on ClassicO CLASSCD 315 played by Morten
Zeuthen (cello) with the Bohemian Chamber Philharmonic/Douglas
Bostock). The Piano Concerto has been issued on Danacord as
part of the Danish musical families series.
The Danish continue to show the way in
the revival of their and the world's musical heritage. This
is a very agreeable disc in every way presenting romantic era
music that, while not immune from convention, is entertaining
and often touching.
see also Review
by Jonathan Woolf