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October 12, 2016
Remy Frank

And there was Thomas de Hartmann…

It’s not often that one encounters such meticulous love and commitment for a project as that dedicated to the Russian composer Thomas de Hartmann by the Dutch label Basta.

Thomas de Hartmann studied at the St. Petersburg Conservatory, and between 1908 and 1912 he lived in Munich and studied conducting under Felix Mottl. He worked temporarily for “Der Blaue Reiter” Almanac and created the music for Kandinsky’s stage composition “Der Gelbe Klang”. Later on he was greatly influenced by the Armenian – Greek, esoteric, author, choreographer and composer, Georges I. Gurdjieff. At Gurdjieff’s “Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man” in Fontainebleau near Paris, de Hartmann composed and arranged a large proportion of the music compiled by Gurdjieff for his “dancing exercises”. In 1951 de Hartmann immigrated with his wife to the USA, where he died in 1956.

The de Hartmann Project from Basta includes music for piano, songs, as well as chamber music on no fewer than seven CDs. The pieces are very varied, and range from sonatas to compositions with titles like ‘Lumiere Noire’ and ‘Deux Pleureuses,’ ‘Musique Pour la Fete de la Patronne,’ and on to a wealth of different songs.

Although not exactly works of genius, these are nevertheless works of originality throughout, which are pleasant to listen to, and contain quite a number of delightful little gems.

The lion’s share of this monumental project belongs to the pianist, Elan Sicroff, whose interpretations are both technically brilliant and reveal a playful imagination.

All the other musicians are skilled enough to meet the demands of de Hartmann’s music.

A richly illustrated and detailed booklet also is included which puts the music into context.

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