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August KLUGHARDT (1847-1902)
Concert Overture in G major, op. 45 (1884) [11:07]
Konzertstück for oboe and orchestra, op. 18 (ca 1870) [9:13]
Cello Concerto in A minor, op. 59 (1894) [18:09]
Auf der Wanderschaft, Suite for orchestra, op. 67 (1896) [16:56]
Rolf-Julius Koch (oboe)
Horst Beckedorf (cello)
NDR Radiophilarmonie/Willy Steiner (overture, suite), Curt Cremer (oboe), Hans Herbert Jöris (concerto)
rec. 1975-80, Saal 1, WDR (oboe), other locations not given
STERLING CDS1054-2 [55:15]

The intense rivalry between adherents of the Leipzig School (Schumann, Brahms) and The New German School (Liszt, Wagner) in mid-to-late 19th century German music, almost inevitably meant that up and coming composers landed, at least initially, in one camp or the other, although they sometimes moved as they matured. August Klughardt initially gravitated towards Schumann, but he later became influenced by Liszt, and met Wagner at the first performance of Liszt’s Christus.

The mix of works on this CD displays this cross-fertilisation, and I was particularly delighted by the opening of the Concert Overture in which we hear horn calls backed by strings and then answered by woodwind. It develops as Schumann in woodland/nature mood might have done, and as far as I am concerned, is the most appealing work presented here.

The oboe concert piece that follows is not particularly memorable melodically, although the middle adagio section is the best. It is the earliest work here by about fourteen years, and I think that Klughardt’s development as a composer, or the lack of it, shows in comparison with the others.

The cello concerto is rather nice, and I am tempted to think of Dvořák’s masterpiece, and whilst Klughardt does not match Dvořák melodically, his concerto is far from negligible, with some lovely writing for the orchestra, both when it is accompanying the cellist or when playing alone. It would not be out of place in a concert program, along with the Overture, but I should think the chances of that happening are remote, at least outside Germany.

The Suite for Orchestra Auf der Wanderschaft, (A walk in the countryside) is an orchestration by the composer of an earlier piano suite that he composed after he and his wife holidayed in the Harz mountains. It is the sort of thing that Raff could have produced – easy on the ear, lightly orchestrated and making the most of the piano melodies. Schumann’s influence abounds, and I particularly liked Auf der Klause (at the Ducal hunting lodge), which has a degree of solemnity with bird-calls present in the background. The final section is most poetic, ending quietly as the walk finishes.

The recordings are not of recent vintage, but are really fine, allowing the orchestral sounds to be heard clearly in a nice acoustic, and the two orchestras play very well. The booklet is very detailed; indeed, it is a model of its kind, written in English, German and French.
Jim Westhead

Previous reviews: Rob Barnett ~ Jonathan Woolf ~ David Barker

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