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August KLUGHARDT (1847-1902)
Lenore, Symphonische Dichtung in vier Abteilungen, Op. 27 (1870s) [33:09]
Friedrich GERNSHEIM (1839-1916)
Zu einem Drama, Tondichtung für grosses Orchester, Op. 82 (1902) [17:58]
Anhaltische Philharmonie/Manfred Mayrhofer (Klughardt)
SWR Radiofunkorchester Kaiserslauten/Klaus Arp (Gernsheim)
rec. live, 14 October 2002 (Klughardt); 6 July 1995, Kaiserslautern studio (Gernsheim)
STERLING CDS1096-2 [51:07]

Klughardt and Gernsheim is not a firm of German lawyers but composing near-contemporaries whose CD stars have been on the rise for some time. Gernsheim in particular, several of whose pieces I’ve reviewed before, has been critically admired over the last few years and here he’s represented by Zu einem Drama, an 18-minute tone poem composed in 1902 and probably his last orchestral work. In modified sonata form, about which Malcolm MacDonald’s booklet notes are eloquent, this maturely constructed piece carries a number of crafty hints of other composers’ music. Being situated, as a form, in the New German school, one would expect a tone poem of this kind to allude to other prevailing models and Brahms is one such certainly, whose First Symphony seems to be encoded in the work. That’s reinforced by the sense of rugged construction and exploitation of orchestral colour – there is a pizzicato passage that is unmistakably Brahmsian in spirit for instance. But there are also reminiscences of Parsifal at one point, Gernsheim bringing together the opposite poles of the German musical muse, even if briefly. The deft central panel leads on to a strong march theme that bursts open to reveal a panoply of Wagnerian efflorescence.

The Gernsheim was recorded in the studio back in 1995 but the listener really gets a whiff of live recording at the start of Klughardt’s Lenore, which was taped live in Kaiserslauten in 2002. The origin of this work is a question of some complexity; Klughardt published the work as a four-part symphonic poem but listed it as a symphony in his own catalogue of works. Thus, Sterling has called it a symphonic poem, following the published description, but included the symphonic designation – it’s actually Symphony No.2 – in brackets. Whatever it is – or isn’t – this is a passionate work that reflects a little Lisztian influence and elements derived from Wagner – Die Meistersinger in particular to my ears, in the opening panel. In the central section – which is single tracked here but contains the two inner movements - one finds a rather lyrical March that exudes the spirit of Tannhäuser topped up with florid and festive elements, some rather exhilarating, before the slow section announces music of plunging despair that modifies into deft string and wind phrasing. The final panel opens with brass fanfares, a compendium of Wagnerian elements, occasionally blustery and indeed a touch one-dimensional. But Klughardt has the sense to end his emotively wide-ranging work quietly. Brief audience applause is retained.

Stretching to 51 minutes is by no means generous, but then it’s rarity value that gives this disc its cachet.

Jonathan Woolf

Previous review: Rob Barnett


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