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August Klughardt: Symphony No. 5; Overtures

Klughardt / Anhaltische Philharmonie Dessau
Release Date: 11/19/2013 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777693   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  August Klughardt
Conductor:  Antony Hermus
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dessau Anhalt Philharmonic Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

KLUGHARDT Symphony No. 5 in c, op. 71. Concert Overture: Im Frühling, op. 30. Festival Overture in E?, op. 78 Antony Hermus, cond; Anhalt P Dessau CPO 777693 (61:36)

Here is a late German Romantic composer, August Klughardt (1847–1902), I should be more familiar with, but I’m not. Perhaps Read more it’s because so little of his music has been recorded. Yet, among his works that have been recorded are a String Quartet, a String Quintet, and a Piano Quintet—the very type of works that are of the most interest to me and that I make an effort to seek out. As it happens, I do have CPO’s prior release of Klughardt’s Violin Concerto and Third Symphony, a CD reviewed by Robert Markow in 35:1, and one which subsequently advanced to his Want List for that year. In fact, perusing the Fanfare Archive, I find that quite a few Klughardt works have been reviewed—the above-mentioned Piano Quintet and String Quintet, a Cello Concerto, a Second Symphony, and a number of others among them.

In his review, Markow suggests that if the glut of recordings of Schumann and Brahms symphonies, and Mendelssohn and Bruch violin concertos has you in a rut, then Klughardt may be just the ticket to get you out of the doldrums. There certainly appear to be enough works by Klughardt to keep one supplied with previously unheard music for quite some time—six symphonies, a number of orchestral scores, quite a few chamber pieces, and at least four operas—if and when CPO and/or some other enterprising label gets around to recording them.

Meanwhile, Klughardt’s Symphony No. 5 on this disc offers quite a wild ride on the rails of a late Romantic train. Ronald Müller’s program note pretty much rehashes the composer’s online biography, which describes Klughardt’s admiration of Liszt and Wagner, but cites his essentially conservative bent, which led him to emulate the models of Schumann and Brahms and to ally himself with those upholding Classical traditions.

Nonetheless, on hearing this Symphony, completed in 1897, the year Brahms died, I would beg to differ with the above received wisdom about Klughardt’s backward-looking tendencies. Not even in Schumann’s mentally deranged state could he have imagined anything that sounded like Klughardt’s Fifth Symphony. So, at least insofar as this specific score is concerned, I totally reject the Schumann and even the Brahms associations.

I will concede that for 1897 this music may not be in line with some of the more progressive trends of the day, but Klughardt’s C-Minor Symphony is, without the slightest doubt, the offspring of Liszt’s tone poems and Wagner’s operas. The score is imprinted with the DNA of Les preludes, Mazeppa and the Ring cycle; and in Klughardt’s hands, it comes together in a symphonic score of enormously thrilling power, passion, and stunning beauty.

It comes as quite a shock to learn from the notes that this imposing work began life as a String Quintet in C? Minor—shades of the transformation Brahms’s op. 15 underwent on its way to becoming the composer’s D-Minor Piano Concerto. This five-movement masterful Symphony by Klughardt should definitely put it and him on the radar for anyone who is exhilarated by full-blown, unapologetic Romantic orgies in sound. This may just end up on my 2014 Want List.

The concert overture Im Frühling is a much earlier work, dating from around 1873. Here the Schumann connection is overt, but so too, as the album note acknowledges, is the influence of Lohengrin and Die Meistersinger , and I would add, Tannhäuser.

The Festival Overture followed just two months after the Symphony. Klughardt, who was court music director in Dessau at the time, was called upon to provide the Overture for festivities celebrating the 100th anniversary of the inauguration of the court theater. The opening trumpet fanfare is very nearly a dead ringer for the opening of Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio italien , but instead of the triplet ostinato that follows in the Tchaikovsky, we get something in Klughardt’s Overture that’s of a more solemn character. This soon gives way, however, to music of a celebratory but dignified nature appropriate to the occasion. It’s a pleasant piece, but one, I’d have to say, that doesn’t approach the white-hot inspiration that gave rise to the just completed Symphony and, to a somewhat lesser extent, the earlier Im Frühling Overture.

Dessau’s Anhalt Philharmonic is new to me, but I’ve encountered conductor Antony Hermus before, leading the Gavriel Lipkind and the Sinfonia Varsovia in a performance of Saint-Saëns’s A-Minor Cello Concerto in 35:3. Raymond Tuttle also gave Hermus a positive nod in a review of works by Dutch composer Johan Wagenaar on CPO in 33:5.

None of the works on the present disc is flagged as a world premiere recording, which may just be modesty on CPO’s part, but I haven’t found any other listings. In any case, this is a must-have release for anyone who loves rousing Romantic works. I have a feeling that August Klughardt is not going to languish in obscurity for much longer after this. Urgently recommended.

FANFARE: Jerry Dubins
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Works on This Recording

Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 71 by August Klughardt
Conductor:  Antony Hermus
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dessau Anhalt Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Germany 
Concert Overture Op. 30, "In the Spring" by August Klughardt
Conductor:  Antony Hermus
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dessau Anhalt Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Germany 
Festival Overture in E flat major, Op. 78 by August Klughardt
Conductor:  Antony Hermus
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dessau Anhalt Philharmonic Orchestra
Period: Romantic 
Written: Germany 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  1 Customer Review )
 A Gem Of A Recording November 1, 2014 By Henry S. (Springfield, VA) See All My Reviews "German composer August Klughardt may be relatively unknown, but this very fine CPO recording shows that his works indeed merit a serious listen. His 5th Symphony and the overtures contained herein can be characterized as late Romantic compositions with a moderate-conservative aesthetic. This indicates lots of free-spirited melody, lushly layered orchestration, and not much in the way of angst-filled, introspective paranoia. As was the case with CPO's earlier release of Klughardt's 3rd Symphony, I found the quality of the Anhaltische Philharmonie of Dessau, Germany, to be absolutely top notch. If you want to hear something that really sounds majestic, try Klughardt's impressive 9-minute long Festival Overture, Op. 75- that should definitely wake you up and put you in a good mood. Naturally, CPO's engineering meets its usual high standards. In short, an excellent recording, one sure to please. Definitely recommended." Report Abuse
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