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Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb International, January 2020

The performances are pliant, sympathetic and well recorded. All the pieces are claimed as premiere recordings and whilst none is earth-shaking, their amalgam of obvious models and Hartmann’s own generosity of spirit proves enlivening. © 2020 MusicWeb International Read complete review

Records International, December 2019

Hartmann employs a wide emotional range in the chamber works, the 1865 quintet full of youthful passion, the A minor quartet gently ingratiating but its later sibling smoldering and dramatic but with a seraphic slow movement, but his gift for melody is present in all. © 2019 Records International

David Denton
David's Review Corner, November 2019

That we do not hear the music of the Danish-born Emil Hartmann is our tragic loss, for these world premiere recordings evince that he was an outstanding composer. Surrounded by a successful musical family, his father and brother-in-law (Niels Gade) were both famous composers, it was an atmosphere that found Emil often taking refuge in a mental home. Born in 1836, from an early age he had ambitions of becoming a composer in many guises, though too much was probably expected of him. Stylistically he belonged to the generation that had given Felix Mendelssohn to the world, and it was the refinement, elegance and textures of his German counterpoint that provided the basis for Emil’s output. Much of it was not published in his lifetime, and most has since remained undisturbed in the Royal Danish Library, with all of the works on this disc being recorded for the first time. But as you will discover in the four movements of the Piano Quintet, had it carried the name of Robert Schumann, it would have readily found a place in the chamber music repertoire. Thematically it falls kindly on the memory, the distribution of parts for the five performers only marginally favouring the piano. The slow movement is of innate beauty, while the scherzo and finale are full of bubbling good humour. Two String Quartets probably came from his later years—he died in 1898—and as with the Quintet, Hartmann’s gift of using equal voices that intertwine, permeate both scores. They are in four movements, the slow andante coming second, and are substantial in length, an Andante and Allegro for violin and piano, dedicated to Gade, offered here as an encore. Assembled from distinguished musicians from Denmark, Belgium and Germany, the ensemble have a flawless and cultivated tonal quality, admirable captured in ideally balanced sound. Much recommended. © 2019 David’s Review Corner

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