J. E. HARTMANN: Symphony No. 1 in D. Symphony No. 2 in G.
Symphony No. 3 in D. Symphony No. 4 in G.
The surprise here, a most pleasing one, is the surviving music of
Johann Ernst Hartmann the Elder (1726-1793), a native of the Duchy of
in Holsten, who moved to Copenhagen in 1762 – permanently in 1766
as a member of the Royal Orchestra, whose music director he became the
next year. He is credited with “inventing” the indigenous
Danish Singspiel – one
of which yielded what continues to be the royal anthem. In 1784 he become
director of Copenhagen’s Harmonic Society, which had its own hall
and an orchestra larger and better than the Royal. Tragically, on the basis
of what little has survived, most of his creative library was destroyed
in the Christiansborg Palace fire of 1794, a year after Hartmann’s
death. The only symphony ever published was No. 1on this disc, compact
and sprightly in a style somewhere between Baroque and Haydn. A puckish
vein runs throughout the other works, and a total mastery of craft that
make these durable as well as charming works. Adding to the pleasure are
performances by the Concerto Copenhagen, known throughout Scandinavia as “CoCo” and
respected as the Nordic countries’ best period-instrument ensemble.
Lars Ulrik Mortensen has led them from the harpsichord since 1999 in performances
as spirited as the music. cpo has recorded everything just about perfectly – credit
producer-editor Thilo Reinhard and engineer Andreas Johnson – in
Copenhagen’s Garnisons Kirche. This church venue looks like a miniature
Concertgebouw from the picture on the back cover of the program book,
which has texts in German, English, French, and of course Danish. Recommended,
and not just for period lovers.