ESSENTIAL RECORDINGS
KARL AMADEUS HARTMANN - SINFONIA TRAGICA


KARL AMADEUS HARTMANN - SINFONIA TRAGICA - KARL ANTON RICKENBACHER (Conductor) - BAMBERG SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA - Koch-Schwann 3-1295-2

The other works on this CD, the "Symphony No. 2 Adagio" and "Scenes from Sodom and Gomorrha", are both included in the box-set of symphonies also reviewed on this site, but not the "Sinfonia Tragica" to which I would like to draw your attention. Although it's duration is only 23 minutes, it speaks volumes compared to symphonies by other composers lasting 3 to 4 times longer.

It was written in 1940 and saw it's world premiere performance only in 1989. It was composed, like some of his other works, as a form of protest in opposition to Nazi brutality, and as a form of confrontation to that regime. He created a music of defiance to his national environment by quoting from music by composers classified as "entartete" in Nazi cultural propaganda, such as Alban Berg, Mahler, Stravinsky, Bartok and Hindemith. This was Hartmann's way of resisting against the regime.

There are moments in the Adagio movement, especially the last few pages, that will haunt your mind long after being heard, and moments of fierce agitation and tumultuous momentum in the last movement, with massive conflicts between the brass and string groups of the orchestra. The aforementioned musical quotes from other composers are well hidden within the texture of the work and therefore would have gone completely unnoticed by the officials at the time, but they are fun to discover.

In conclusion, if you enjoy music that grabs your attention and delivers an emotional punch, Hartmann certainly fits the bill.

Jean-Yves Duperron