November 25, 2016
“Don’t listen to your Parisian colleagues,” cellist Pablo Casals once said to composer Thomas de Hartmann. De Hartmann followed his famous friend’s advise and stuck to his own musical path. Unfortunately, that path led him into oblivion. A shame, really, because this former pupil of Arensky left an incredible catalogue. This catalogue has now, for the very first time, been put on the musical map by pianist Elan Sicroff and Gert-Jan Blom (artistic producer for the Metropole Orkest).
A beautifully designed and very informative box set was released few weeks ago. The box gives an excellent overview of de Hartmann’s development as a composer: from early romantic works to the ripe musical fruits from his later period. De Hartmann (born in Ukraine, emigrated to Paris and died in America in 1956) was a musical omnivore. As a true virtuoso he balances between all the styles and genres of his time and it is clear from his romantic melodies that he rather looks back than ahead. That said, the later works are surprisingly modern. Listen for example to the meditative sounds of the Two Nocturnes (1953). We hear a composer at work who—with his introspective soundscapes—is far ahead of his time. After listening to all seven CD’s one can’t help but wonder: how could such gorgeous music have been forgotten?