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Thomas de Hartmann in Ukraine- a Forgotten Master

by Efrem Marder

Background:

A few years ago I embraced the aim to help bring out de Hartmann’s orchestral music, a logical next step following the successful initiative led by Elan Sicroff to record de Hartmann’s solo piano, vocal, and chamber music.

Discussions with record labels ensued, and Martin Anderson, head of Toccata Classics, suggested that we speak with Theodore Kuchar, the accomplished American/Ukrainian conductor based in Lviv, Ukraine, with the idea that it would be fitting if de Hartmann’s music could be revitalized in the composer’s homeland.

A collaboration developed easily with Maestro Kuchar, in conjunction with the Lviv National Philharmonic Orchestra of Ukraine, which he conducts regularly. Maestro Kuchar, who is the most recorded conductor of our time (over 100 classical CDs), has been very enthusiastic about the discovery of de Hartmann’s music, in light of its high quality, the cultural legacy for Ukraine, and historic significance for early/mid 20th Century music in general.

The Festival:

Jointly, we organized a festival of three orchestral concerts in Lviv Ukraine which occurred on Sept 10,14, and 17, 2021. Each concert featured its own distinct repertoire and was followed by recording sessions, resulting in three new CDs of music not previously recorded or performed in our time. 

The first concert program included two Ukrainian-themed works, Koliadky (1940) and Une Fete en Ukraine (1940), the Fourth Symphonie-Poeme (1955), as well as de Hartmann’s Concerto Andaluz (1949) for flute, strings, and percussion, performed by flutist Bülent Evcil

The second concert featured the composer’s first Symphonie- Poeme (1934), a major 66 min work, and also the Fantasie Concerto for contrabass (1942) performed by the UK artist, Leon Bosch.

The third concert included Scherzo Fantastique (1929), the composer’s Third Symphonie- Poeme (1953), and featured Elan Sicroff performing de Hartmann’s remarkable piano concerto (1939), with Tian Hui Ng, Mt Holyoke College professor, and conductor of the Pioneer Valley Symphony.

The festival was successful, well-reviewed, and provided an excellent recording opportunity, and we also enjoyed visiting the city of Lviv, which is a worthy destination in its own right.