Over a decade before Richard Wagner's Valkyries took their celebrated ride, August Bournonville and Johann Peter Emilius Hartmanns Valkyrie danced on the Danish stage. Born in Copenhagen, son of French dancers, Bournonville founded the national Danish ballet with a series of ballets drawing its themes from Nordic mythology and early Danish history. For his first such project, Bournonville turned to his childhood friend Hartmann, who already had established himself as a composer of music on national themes.
Karl Amadeus Hartmann (2 August 1905 – 5 December 1963) was a German composer. Some have lauded him as the greatest German symphonist of the 20th century, although he is now largely overlooked, particularly in English-speaking countries. A sinewy counterpoint drives much of Hartmann's music, whether in the neo-baroque piano pieces from the 1920s, or his final two symphonies. But he could also pack a considerable punch as in the Piano Sonata, inspired by the sight of a procession of concentration camp victims from Dachau.
As is well known, the Third Reich drove many of its gifted composers into exile, to early deaths or to the concentration camps. But a significant responsibility devolved on another group, who became ‘internal exiles’, remaining in Germany, but refusing to become cultural ornaments of the Nazi regime. Karl Amadeus Hartmann (1905–1963), in Bavaria, consistently kept the spirit of modernism and human commitment alive in his own work.
The Hartmann, completed in 1933, shows the influence of Berg's Lyric Suite as well as Bartók's 1928 quartet, with which it shares this outstanding disc. Hartmann went into "inner exile" after the Nazi takeover, refusing to allow his work to be published or performed in Germany. Performed abroad, the quartet won a Swiss prize in 1936. It's a powerful work, with a dark, tragic opening that gives way to furious outbursts and energetic declamations. Making an immediate impact, it should not be missed, especially in the Zehetmair Quartet's spontaneous, tingling performance
“Hünteler’s disc is a gem. The tone of Hünteler’s flute is luscious, the passagework sparkling and limpid, the shaping of the phrases intimate and expressive, and the sounds of the strings blend beautifully … Highly recommended.“ (Fanfare)
The concertos of Karl Amadeus Hartmann, not only richly varied in relation to each other, but also a welcome addition to his more unified group of eight symphonies. Hartmann discovered new and individual solutions that confirm the importance of his concertos as significant and original contributions to the development of this form in the 20th-century. The works compiled on this CD were written between 1931 and 1955, thus providing a superb insight into all of Hartmann's important creative phases.