Review by: David Hurwitz
Artistic Quality: 10
Sound Quality: 10
What a surprising and marvelous release! Karl Amadeus Hartmann is, along with Hindemith, the premier post-War German symphonist, and one of a tiny handful of contemporary German composers of any significance at all. Most of his eight symphonies date from the late 1940s and early 1950s, though some are based on earlier works that the composer removed from circulation. Hartmann refused to allow his music to be performed during the Nazi period, preferring to withdraw completely from German cultural life in protest against what he saw happening around him. When he emerged after the war, he created a small but thrillingly potent body of work, basing his style on a mixture of dissonant tonality and dense counterpoint combined with a Stravinskian rhythmic thrust. The 1st Symphony is a vocal cantata for contralto and orchestra featuring the poetry of Walt Whitman, no less. Miserae is a tone poem dating from the composer’s pre-War period; it’s a tense, brooding piece, effective enough in its own right, but it doesn’t hold a candle to the 6th Symphony, the climaxes of which literally explode from the speakers. If you like the pulverizing primitivism of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring, the Bartók of The Miraculous Mandarin, or Varèse’s Amériques, then baby, your ship has come in. Hartmann will blow you away. Telarc’s sound smokes, and so do Botstein’s blistering performances.
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Recording Details:Reference Recording: None
KARL AMADEUS HARTMANN - Symphonies Nos. 1 and 6; Miserae