- Symphony in A major
Most of August Halm's modest compositional output was dryly academic in style and didactic in purpose, to promulgate the hallowed legacy of Bach and Beethoven. Aware of his limited talents and self-effacing to a fault, Halm seldom concerned himself with issues of originality or his own personal musical development. Of all his works, the "Symphony in A major" (ca. 1911-1926) is perhaps his most advanced and mature, but this is not saying much: instead of imitating Bach or Beethoven, Halm substitutes Bruckner and Richard Strauss as models; and, considering the late date of its composition, the "Symphony" is out of step with the times. Yet if its derivative qualities and anachronisms irritate, the music is at least inoffensive in its bland, pastoral cheerfulness, and it is intelligently orchestrated and competently worked out. This is not a great symphony, certainly, nor one to stimulate a revival of Halm's oeuvre, but it may appeal to fans of late Romanticism and those who think minor composers deserve a fair hearing. Per Borin and the Württembergisches Philharmoniker Reutlingen give the work a satisfying performance, rich in timbres and warmly expressive, though with a Viennese lilt that seems to point up the Brucknerian influence too blatantly. Sterling's sound quality is superb.