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Heinrich von HERZOGENBERG (1843-1900)
Symphony no. 1 in C minor, Op. 50 (1885) [42:18]
Symphony no. 2 in B flat major, Op. 70 (1890) [34:48]
North German Radio Symphony Orchestra Hamburg/Frank Beermann
rec. Grosser Sendesaal, Hannover, Germany 1-3 December 2003 (1); 17-18 May 2004.
CPO 777122-2 [77:06]

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 in:-

CPO 999 372-2 Missa op. 87 in E minor

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. 

Rob Barnett 



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