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David Denton
David's Review Corner, May 2007

Born in Copenhagen in 1805, Johan Peter Emilius Hartmann - not to be confused with many other Hartmanns - was to live to the first year of the 20th century, and was composing well into his eighties, by which time he had become a central figure in Danish music. Yet he was self-taught, mixing his life as a civil servant with a highly productive output of music that eventually arrived at several hundred scores. That he became largely locked into a post-Beethoven idiom, with Schumann hovering in the background, places his music stylistically in a generation before its actual date of composition. As an orchestrator he owed much to Spohr, though as this disc shows he was a highly skilled practitioner. If his music has fallen from the concert repertoire, the reason must rest with the fact that his thematic material - that is always totally pleasing - does not always lodge in the memory. Probably best to start at track 8, Hakon Jarl, the sinister and quiet opening dragging you into a red-blooded score that would happily stand comparison as the Danish equivalent to Dvorak's tone-poems. For me the slight disappointment must be the choral singing in Volvens Spadom, the tone quality not perfectly focused. They do not have a massive role and the orchestral playing throughout is superb. Excellent sound quality.

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