ARC Ensemble’s New Album, “Chamber Works by Robert Müller-Hartmann”
Released on Chandos Records, this album features world-premiere recordings of works by the lesser-known German-Jewish composer
Neglected for 80 years, the works of composer Robert Müller-Hartmann have been recorded for the first time by the multi-GRAMMY, JUNO, and OPUS Klassik-nominated ARC Ensemble.
The ARC Ensemble comprises senior faculty of The Royal Conservatory’s Glenn Gould School in Toronto, Canada, with special guests from the organization’s exceptional students and alumni.
Marking its 20th anniversary with its latest album, “Chamber Works by Robert Müller-Hartmann,” the ARC Ensemble has long completed recording projects of new and historically significant works to add to the catalog.
This recording features violinists Erika Raum and Marie Bérard, violist Steven Dann, cellist Tom Wiebe, and pianist Kevin Ahfat.
The release is also the seventh recording in Chandos’s acclaimed Music in Exile series, which aims at “reviving neglected masterworks silenced by the 20th century’s oppressive regimes.”
Works on the recording were written around the early 1920s and mid-1930s. The pieces include the Meditation and Elegy for cello and piano; Sonata for Violin and Piano, op. 5; Sonata for Two Violins, op. 32; Three Intermezzi and Scherzo for Piano, op. 22; and String Quartet No. 2, op. 38.
“They are outstanding evidence for Müller-Hartmann’s inclusion in the classical repertoire,” said ARC’s artistic director Simon Wynberg. “His music is unashamedly Romantic, with echoes of Schumann, Strauss and Franck, and he had that perfect combination of a wonderfully thorough training and no shortage of terrific musical ideas.”
A composer, teacher, administrator, and musicologist, Müller-Hartmann (1884-1950) enjoyed considerable success in Germany with conductors such as Richard Strauss, Fritz Busch, and Otto Klemperer performing his works.
Across history, he has been more known for his association with Ralph Vaughan Williams than for his own works. It was through Vaughan Williams’ daughter Imogen that Müller-Hartmann met the English composer, who became a supportive friend and colleague — and helped to curtail his internment on the Isle of Man, where Jewish internees ran the risk of cohabiting with Nazi sympathizers.
As Müller-Hartmann fled from Hamburg to England in 1937 during the rise of Nazism, his professional career never recovered despite his artistic connections, and his music was largely forgotten.
“My experiences as a musician in this country also protect me from giving in to illusions about the future,” Müller-Hartmann wrote to his son, Rudy. “I have friends among my English colleagues, but the majority of English musicians don’t want to have anything to do with the refugees.
“A few days ago Vaughan Williams asked me to orchestrate the piano accompaniment of one of his songs for a radio broadcast. I accepted this certainly very honorable and well-paid commission with pleasure but see it as nothing more than a very friendly gesture by the leading English composer towards one of the uprooted, for whom unfortunately nothing more can be done,” he continued. “The sober realization of my professional situation sometimes makes me a little sad, but never despondent or unwilling to work. Besides, we are doing quite well and a thousand times better than so many others.”
“[Müller-Hartmann] was an émigré people knew about because of his relationship with Vaughan Williams, but no one had bothered to examine his music,” Wynberg explained, acknowledging that the composer’s catalog had been on his mind for a while. “When I met the composer’s grandson in Jerusalem, he arrived with a huge sports bag and a backpack crammed with manuscripts and early editions of Müller-Hartmann’s scores, but the family had never heard a note of his music.”
To purchase and listen to the album, click here.