Sunday, August 18, 2013

E. T. A. Hoffmann – Symphony E-flat Major

   The romantic era was starting more as the intellectual movement of disappointment with the ideas of the Enlightenment than a new artistic style. In music the pre-romantic period was still strongly based on traditional harmonics and fixed in classical era forms, and yet some story concepts and content ideas were completely different. The new era came first as a revolt in literature. One of prominent artists of this era was E. T. A. Hoffmann. His original names were Ernst Theodor Wilhelm, but he changed third name into Amadeus because of his deep dedication to musical genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Although he felt primarily to be musician, he was one of most influential writers of romantic era. He was active mainly as an author of stories with strong imaginary impact, sometimes considered as pioneering of the genre of fantasy and horror. Under influence of his works were Edgar Allan Poe, Howard Phillips Lovecraft and many others.
   Born 1776 in Königsberg, E. T. A. Hoffmann was person of many talents and vast horizons. He was working as a lawyer, publishing writer and active as a musician, music critic and composer. He was competent violinist, harpist and pianist, what reflected in a number of chamber works, but despite his hopes he never became a conductor. He composed dances, Große Fantasie and five sonatas for piano, Grand Trio, Harfenquintet, some canzoni, religious works as Messa d-moll (1805) and Miserere b-moll (1809), Symphony E-flat major (1806). His most valued oeuvres are the numerous works for stage, especially Undine which clearly influenced the development of German romantic opera. While working in Warsaw, he initiated the Music Society organizing concerts from 1805. He was also known for his sympathy with cats.

E. T. A. Hoffmann – Symphony E-flat Major (1984)

   As a composer E. T. A. Hoffmann was strongly influenced by Viennese school. He was focused on music created by W. A. Mozart. Probably all stylistic similarities to works of twenty years older composer were Hoffmann’s deliberate choice. His musical beliefs, just like his contemporaries were limited by classical idea of balance between emotional and intellectual content of musical work. And Mozart was perfect embodiment of this idea. E. T. A. Hoffmann wrote his only symphony probably in time he was working as government official Płock or in Warsaw. Symphony was finished in 1806 and few times placed in concert programs of Musical Society. Original features of this work were irregularities of periodic structures and emphatic meanings augmenting emotional content of the work. His symphonic music is written efficiently and economically. It uses any means of expression and proves talent and skills of the composer.
   First recording of E. T. A. Hoffmann’s Symphony take place in Berliner Jesus-Christus-Kirche 160 years after composers death in August 1982 with Radio-Symphonie-Orchester Berlin under the baton of Lothar Zagrosek. It has been published together with symphonic fragments from operas by Schwann – Musica Mundi (42 097 6). The opera overtures on side two are, three fragments of Die lustigen Musikanten (The Merry Musicians) – Overture I, Interlude and Overture II. There is also Overture from Undine recorded in February 1982 by the same orchestra conducted by Roland Bader. Sound is perfect, renditions inspired with best romantic visions, edition made on professional level. Four stars for the promise of the restoration of the position corresponding to the value of this music.

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