- Concerto Funebre for violin & string orchestra
- Symphony No. 4 for string orchestra
- Kammerkonzert, for clarinet, string quartet & string orchestra
It's hard to understand why the music of Karl Amadeus Hartmann (1905-63) still languishes at the remote margins of the repertory. Probably the most important German symphonist to follow Mahler, Hartmann extended that tradition with an idiosyncratic expressive force. His music has fierce integrity and intelligence; though more accessible than much of the avant-gardism of his time, it's neither conservative nor "neo"-anything. Elements of Schoenberg, Hindemith, and even Bartók seem thrown into the mix, but only occasionally does a turn of phrase explicitly suggest one of those other masters. This generously filled program of three major works ought to be a breakthrough album for Hartmann's legacy. The Concerto funebre is, plain and simple, one of the great 20th-century violin concertos. Austere, vehement, and finally hopeful, it makes a profound and humanistic impact, especially as played so powerfully here by Isabelle Faust. This young violinist, who debuted with acclaimed recordings of Bartók, is tirelessly virtuosic and eloquent in the almost unbroken solo line the work requires. Hartmann's Symphony No. 4 for string orchestra is no less affecting, similarly beginning in austerity before entering a frenetic central movement and concluding with a wrenching appassionato. By comparison, the Chamber Concerto for Clarinet, String Quartet, and String Orchestra is a relatively bright and gentle work -- in part simply because it allows a non-stringed instrument to be heard for the first time on the disc, but also thanks to its lively "Dance Variations" movement and its enchanting closing "Fantasie." Paul Meyer is the mellifluous soloist here, joined by Christoph Poppen and the Munich Chamber Orchestra, whose performances throughout the program are exemplary both in their lyricism and boldness.