Karl Amadeus Hartmann: Funèbre

Isabelle Faust, Paul Meyer, Münchener Kammerorchester, Christoph Poppen

CD18,90 out of print

Karl Amadeus Hartmann counts as one of the most important and independently-minded German composers of the 20th century. This recording embraces two of his most well-known works, which bridge the epochs of the Late Romantic and the Modern, as well as a premiere recording of his Chamber Concerto for clarinet, string quartet and orchestra.

Featured Artists Recorded

July & September 1999, Angelika Kauffmann Sall, Schwarzenberg

Original Release Date


  • Concerto funebre
    (Karl Amadeus Hartmann)
  • 1Introduktion (Largo)01:34
  • 2Adagio07:43
  • 3Allegro di molto08:19
  • 4Choral (Langsamer Marsch)03:53
  • 4. Sinfonie
    (Karl Amadeus Hartmann)
  • 5Lento assai - con passione15:38
  • 6Allegro di molto, risoluto08:32
  • 7Adagio appassionato07:45
  • Kammerkonzert
    (Karl Amadeus Hartmann)
  • 8Introduktion08:16
  • 9Tanz - Variation I01:19
  • 10Tanz - Variation II00:39
  • 11Tanz - Variation III02:24
  • 12Tanz - Variation IV01:48
  • 13Tanz - Variation V00:33
  • 14Tanz - Variation VI00:36
  • 15Fantasie08:40
Cannes Classical Award 2002
Neben Hartmanns wohl bekanntestem Werk, dem "Concerto funebre", das Isabelle Faust zwischen zerbrechlichem Klage-Tonfall und stählerner Kraft pendeln lässt, wartet diese Veröffentlichung noch mit der Ersteinspielung des Zoltán Kodály gewidmeten Kamerkonzertes auf. Dessen Concerto-grosso-Struktur erfüllt Paul Meyer in den Tanz-Variationen mit musikantischer Virtuosität und in der abschließenden Fantasie mit einem magischen Sottovoce. Das Münchener Kammerorchester interpretiert Hartmann mit eindringlicher Gestik und einem großen dynamischen Spielraum.
Jörg Hillebrand, Fono Forum
Isabelle Faust gives a most persuasive and moving account, her technically flawless playing combining energy, passion and dramatic power with the utmost poise, sensitivity and expressive warmth. Her response to the work's extra-musical associations seems totally spontaneous and displays no sign of strict studio manners, thanks in no small way to the orchestra's sympathetic and keenly polished playing under Christoph Poppen's skilful direction. Such orchestral polish extends to the reading of Hartmann's Fourth Symphony, which incorporates a mix of influences ranging from Bartók to Webern; together with the Petersen Quartet Poppen's forces provide excellent support for the virtuosity of clarinettist Paul Meyer in this premiere recording of the lengthy and challenging Chamber Concerto. The quartet performs a largely expressive, atmospheric role and is sensitively attuned throughout to the work's wide range of moods.
Robin Stowell, The Strad
All three performances do Hartmann proud. Isabelle Faust's eloquent playing of the Concerto funebre draws maximum effect from extremes in mood and temperature. ... With fine sound and imaginative programming, ECM has here given us the ideal Hartmann primer. Let's hope that their collaboration with the Munich Chamber Orchestra will allow for further forays into the output of this great but still sadly unsung Munich master.
Rob Cowan, Gramophone
Die Musik von Karl Amadeus Hartmann ist Zeugnis unkorrumpierbarer menschlicher Aufrichtigkeit, darum des Aufbegehrens, des Trauerns über die Epoche von Krieg und Verbrechen. Ihr Klang ist lebendig geblieben im Gedächtnis der Nachlebenden. Besonders in Deutschland, natürlich. Dieser Komponist steht exemplarisch für die unnachsichtige Reflexion des düsteren, des katastrophischen 20. Jahrhunderts. ... Die Dramaturgie der CD genügt dem Anspruch einer Komposition. Aufs Violinkonzert mit seinem Choral der Resignation und der Sehnsucht folgt die vierte Symphonie von 1946, mithin das Lento assai eines leidenschaftlichen Streichergesangs im Wechsel von Aufschwung und Ermattung, verzweifelter Energiebündelung und ihren Zusammenbrüchen. Dann ein bisher wenig bekanntes Werk des heute legendären Münchner Komponisten: das Kammerkonzert für Klarinette, Streichquartett und Streichorchester von 1930/35. Kontrastreiche Dialoge in rauhem Tonfall oder tänzerischer Wildheit, mit virtuosen Variationen im Mittelteil und einem herb-melancholisch abschattierten Canto von Klarinette und Streichern als Finale.
Wolfgang Schreiber, Süddeutsche Zeitung

"Funèbre" marks the beginning of a long-term collaboration between ECM Records and the Münchener Kammerorchester, an orchestra whose already impressive international reputation has soared in recent years, thanks to the inspired direction of conductor Christoph Poppen.

For the first recording in this new association, the release of which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Münchener Kammerorchester, the orchestra and producer Manfred Eicher focus upon the work of one of the most important and independently minded German composers of the 20th century, Karl Amadeus Hartmann. (Parenthetically, it might be noted that this marks the first time in its 30 year history that the Munich-based ECM label has explored the works of a composer from Munich with a Munich-based ensemble). "Funèbre" embraces two of Hartmann's most well-known works which bridge the epochs of the Late Romantic and the Modern, as well as a premiere recording of his Cham-ber Concerto for clarinet, string quartet and orchestra.

Hartmann (1905-63), a rebellious and anarchistic spirit from the beginning, fought with his professors at the Munich academy, including Reger disciple Josef Haas, who tried to discourage the fledgling composer's enthusiasm for Stravinsky, Bartók, jazz, and Expressionism. By 1928 Hartmann (later to found the history-making Musica Viva concert series in Munich) was going his own way, strongly supported by conductor Hermann Scherchen, organizing a series of chamber concerts linked to the art exhibitions held by the Juryfreien, a Munich-based group of radical anti-Establishment artists. By the early 1930s, Hartmann was composing prolifically and moving beyond the influence of Hindemith, one of many composers he had actively promoted, and was beginning to write pure orchestral music in the grand manner and in a tone all his own.

When Hitler came to power, however, Hartmann made the unusual move of banning his own music from public performance in Germany, an act of solidarity with persecuted fellow composers. As music historian Guy Rickarts has written: "The accession of Nazi tyranny had coincided with an expansion in scale and maturity in Hartmann's music. He could easily have taken advantage of the vacuum left by the departure of so many composers and secured his own reputation. Instead, he opted for 'internal emigration', withdrawing altogether from German musical life and banning his music from perform-ance inside the German Reich. "His works were played only abroad. "At home, he provoked the Authorities as far as he dared....In due course Hartmann's music was branded 'atonal' and 'degener-ate'."

The Chamber Concerto for Clarinet, String Quartet and String Orchestra was begun in 1930 and com-pleted in 1935 but had to wait until 1969, six years after Hartmann's death for its first performance. The Concerto funèbre, written in protest against the political treachery that had pitched Europe to-wards an inevitable war, was originally titled Musik der Trauer (Music of Mourning): "To make his point explicit Hartmann wove into the fabric of this work allusions to the hymn tunes of the medieval Czech Hussites - a reference to the betrayal of Czechoslovakia in 1938 - and a Russian revolutionary song later used by Shostakovich in his Eleventh Symphony. "The work under its original title was first performed in St Gallen, Switzerland, in 1940. It was revised as Concerto funèbre in 1959.

Anton von Webern's biographer Hans Moldenhauer records that "at a time when the tidal wave of political nationalism swept his native country, Karl Amadeus Hartmann was one of the first to profess a pacifist creed and to engage in underground resistance against the Hitler regime."

From 1942, Hartmann studied with Webern - and fought with him as well, until he learned how to steer conversation away from politics (Webern still held, almost unaccountably, to right-wing convic-tions) and to benefit from Webern's compositional brilliance and fierce self-discipline. "In the end you could say that not only did I learn a great deal about composing from Webern but that due to him I became a more orderly person" (Hartmann in a letter to his wife).

In the liner notes for "Funèbre", Wolfgang Sandner writes, "Hartman spoke at once with reverence and self-confidence when he mentioned the lessons he had received from Webern: lessons in broken silence. He knew how important painstaking serial analysis was to him as a means of curbing his strong anarchistic tendency. He pored over Webern's Piano Variations op. 27, studying them down to the tiniest structural element, exploring the density of the structural coherence."

Whatever he took from Webern, however, he transformed. There are no stylistic borrowings. Hartmann's 4th Symphony is one of very few of his works in which Webern's influence is evident, and it employs themes with twelve-note properties. They are, however, freely and expressively integrated into the work as a whole; Hartmann had very little in common with the slide-rule serialists who would later define the new orthodoxy of Darmstadt and its "Vatican-like attitude of avant-garde infallibility" (to quote Guy Rickards). Indeed, the post-war experimental faction, while happy to enjoy Hartmann's patronage as Musica Viva administrator, had scant regard for his writing.

Finnish composer Paavo Heininen, who studied in Cologne in 1961 has recalled, "Practically nobody ever mentioned Hartmann at that time. I was an eager collector of recordings of radio broadcasts of the many German networks, but my harvest of Hartmann was very meagre. That was the time of the most ardent serialism, and I remember the name of Hartmann mentioned just once, on the occasion of the performance of a symphony, which was described as 'not so bad'. I preferred not to mention my great enthusiasm."

Too tonal and "romantic" for the unbending serialists, too challenging for what was left of the main-stream German concert audience, Hartmann's music remained underexposed and undervalued for too long in his homeland.

In recent years, however, Karl Amadeus Hartmann's work has been re-evaluated and his position as a composer outside all of the "schools" has been rightly viewed as a sign of his artistic strength and integrity.
„Funèbre“ bildet den Auftakt einer langfristig angelegten Zusammenarbeit zwischen ECM Records und dem Münchener Kammerorchester, einem Ensemble, dessen große internationale Reputation in den vergangenen Jahren dank der inspirierten Leitung durch Christoph Poppen enorm gestiegen ist.

Mit dieser Veröffentlichung, die mit dem 50-jährigen Jubiläum des Münchener Kammerorchesters zusammentrifft, haben sich das Orchester und Produzent Manfred Eicher des Schaffens eines der wichtigsten und eigenwilligsten deutschen Komponisten des 20. Jahrhunderts angenommen: Karl Amadeus Hartmann (1905-1963). „Funèbre“ enthält zwei von Hartmanns bekanntesten Werken, die den Epochensprung zwischen Spätromantik und Neuer Musik überbrücken, darüber hinaus als Ersteinspielung sein Konzert für Klarinette, Streichquartett und Streichorchester.

K.A. Hartmann war von Anbeginn seiner Laufbahn ein rebellischer, anarchischer Geist von allerdings barocker Lebensart, der sich dem Münchener Konservativismus stets aufs Heftigste widersetzte. Er tat das auch als Organisator, zunächst mit Konzerten im Rahmen der Kunstausstellungen der Münchener „Juryfreien“, und nach 1945 mit der Gründung und Leitung der Konzertreihe musica viva, die dem Kulturleben der Stadt schnell internationale Ausstrahlung verlieh und den Ruch der Rückständigkeit vertreiben konnte. Wichtige Stationen auf Hartmanns künstlerischem Werdegang waren dabei die Unterstützung, die er durch Hermann Scherchen, den „Geburtshelfer der Neuen Musik“ (so Hartmann) erfuhr und der Kompositionsunterricht bei Anton Webern in Wien, den er sich in äußerst schwieriger Zeit der inneren Emigration selbst verordnet hatte. Während der Zeit des Dritten Reichs verstummte Hartmann in seiner Heimat gänzlich, und dies nicht erst aufgrund der Hetzkampagnen gegen die sogenannte „Entartete Musik“, der er sich schließlich zutiefst verbunden fühlte, sondern ganz und gar aus eigenem, den unseligen Zeitläuften widerstehendem Antrieb.

Die Komposition des Kammerkonzerts für Klarinette, Streichquartett und Streichorchester wurde 1930 begonnen und 1935 fertiggestellt, jedoch erst 1969 – sechs Jahre nach Hartmanns Tod – uraufgeführt. Das „Concerto funèbre“ – der Originaltitel lautete zunächst „Musik der Trauer“ – komponierte Hartmann aus Protest gegen den politischen Verrat, der Europa letztlich in den Krieg trieb. Musikalisch beredt wird seine Haltung des Widerstands unter anderem in den komponierten Anspielungen auf hussitischen Choralgesang, und damit dem indirekten Bezug auf die 1938 um ihre Souveränität betrogene Tschechoslowakei. Die Uraufführung fand 1940 in der Schweiz statt. In eben jener Zeit entstand unter dem Titel „Symphonie für Streichorchester und eine Sopranstimme“ auch die Urfassung der vierten Symphonie, deren vokalen Schlusssatz Hartmann 1946/47 durch ein instrumentales Finale ersetzte. Die Uraufführung erfolgte 1948 unter Hans Rosbaud in München.

Einerseits für die unbeugsamen Komponisten serieller Musik zu „tonal“ und „romantisch“, andererseits zu radikal und herausfordernd für das breite deutsche Konzertpublikum, blieb Hartmanns Musik in seinem Heimatland für lange Zeit unterrepräsentiert und weitgehend unterschätzt. Erst in den letzten Jahren hat man Hartmanns Schaffen einer erneuten Bewertung unterzogen, und seine Position abseits aller Schulen und Strömungen wird heute zurecht als Ausweis künstlerischer Integrität gewürdigt.