German Romantics: August Klughardt Orchestral Works Volume 5

Again and again it becomes difficult to understand that composers like August Klughardt can become forgotten! Here are radio performances, among them the Bruch-like Cello Concertino and a charming suite depicting a wanderer in the forest, with bugle calls, bird songs and a stamping walz! The suite ends in a dreamy and vanishing mood. A true romantic, with a keen sense for orchestral detail!
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August Klughardt is one of those composers whose important in their time quickly dissipated after death. His professional career as conductor and occasional concert pianist took him around a number of German cities, most importantly Weimar, where he came under the influence of Liszt and Wagner. He attended the first Bayreuth festival in 1876, hearing the Ring cycle. Despite this, his music is more redolent of Schumann and Brahms.

The overture that opens the disc begins in fine fashion with horn fanfares and answering calls from the woodwinds. There are some Wagnerian moments, but the string writing that follows could have come from Schumann’s piano concerto. Klughardt has the ability to write appealing melodies, not a common quality among the lower rank composer, and there is good instrumental colour throughout. Without wishing to diminish the other works, this is the pick of the four, and would grace any symphony concert program as a novel opening piece.

The cello concerto, in one movement, is much better. There are some lovely melodies that Dvořák would have been proud to incorporate in his concerto, and the orchestral accompaniment has a good deal more interest. Auf der Wanderschaft (On the tramp) is a suite of six short pieces, originally written for piano, and inspired by a holiday in the Harz mountains. It is strongly influenced by Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, though sadly not as memorable. Enjoyable, if slight.

The performances, with no point of comparison, seem eminently satisfactory; it must be difficult for the players to learn such works for perhaps only a single performance. The sound quality is perfectly fine, with a decent amount of detail. The notes by Christopher Fifield are all one could want, or indeed expect. The hunter of the unsung will find much to enjoy here. David Barker, MusicWeb

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