- Symphony No. 2 in B minor, Op. 11
- Symphony No. 1 in C major, Op. 7
Robert Hermann's symphonies are unlike anything else in 19th century German orchestral music. One hears no influence of the titanic Beethoven, the dramatic Wagner, the epic Bruckner, or the epigonic Brahms, much less Mendelssohn or Schumann, and though there may be a touch of Schubert in his melodies and a hint of Bach in his counterpoint, Hermann seems to be entirely his own man. This does not mean that he was an innovator. As his two symphonies show, he was content to work with the customary forms, the usual harmonies, and the standard modulations. At the same time, Hermann did not lack originality. Though it is hard to detect a distinctive style from these two relatively early works -- Hermann in 1912 died at 43 -- the effect of each symphony is wholly unique: the C major from 1895 is gently lyrical, but with immeasurable emotional depths in its central Grave, while the B minor from 1905 is more heroic in tone, with greater power and strength, especially in the rousing finale. Performed here with complete dedication and uncanny sympathy by conductor Christopher Fifield and Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen, and recorded in richly colorful digital sound by Sterling, Hermann's symphonies may not immediately appeal to listeners brought up on the symphonies of Tchaikovsky and Mahler or the tone poems of Liszt and Strauss. Open-minded listeners, though, may find them ultimately more rewarding than the symphonies of Bruch, Raff, and Fuchs.