ROBERT HERMANN (1869-1912): Symphonies No. 1 in C, Op. 7 and No. 2 in B Minor, Op. 11.
Catalogue Number: 11L001
Description: In lieu of notes for this release, Sterling prints a translation of a 1909 German musicologist's article on the composer. To Dr. Walter Niemann, Hermann, a Swiss resident in Leipzig, is "one of the most striking musical characters in modern Germany, indeed in modern music altogether". This is because he has nothing to do with Wagner, modest use of modulation (and never to unexpected keys), is good at intricate but unflashy polyphony and is a "lyricist of the first order". All of that is true of these symphonies, which date from 1895 and 1905. There is abundant melody, the outer movements of the First having long, notable sequences of berceuse-like rocking melodies and, the corollary of what has been stated above, not much drama of any kind. Endless waves of melody, proceeding to their destination slowly, like watching a beautiful countryside going past the window of a slow train. Niemann notes a predilection toward "profound melancholy and tired resignation, yet also winsome warmheartedness" - all true and attractively so. Hermann really does stand out at the turn of the 20th century since he is looking back to Schubert rather than to Beethoven or Brahms or Wagner and, in the first decade of the 21st century, there will be plenty of collectors who will appreciate him for it. Dr. Niemann's prediction that Hermann's "time" would come cannot be discounted solely because the composer died only three years later. Württembergische Philharmonie Reutlingen; Christopher Fifield.