Heinrich Hofmann: Octet, Op. 80; Serenade, Op. 65; Sextett, Op. 25 / Berolina Ensemble


I've had for a little while now in my 'yes' stack of CDs to recommend here on Expedition Audio this very fine MD&G; recording of chamber music by one Heinrich Hofmann, beautifully performed by the Berolina Ensemble. Digging a little deeper into that same pile, I discovered I also have a recording of some symphonic works by Hofmann (although I have to admit, it just dawned on me the two albums are of music by the same composer). So, right after this recommendation, I'll review another disc devoted to Hofmann, his orchestral music. Another cool thing is, as it turns out, these are the only two recordings available devoted entirely to the music of Heinrich Hofmann!

Heinrich Karl Johann Hofmann (1842-1902) was a German composer who began his career as a pianist. In 1869, after the success of his one act comedy Cartouche, he began to spend more of his time composing. During his lifetime, he was well known and respected, and his music was frequently performed. He worked in a variety of genres, producing primarily songs, music for chorus and piano pieces, as well as operas, orchestral works and chamber music. This CD contains three of his chamber works, the Octet Op. 80, Serenade Op. 65 and Sextet Op. 25.

Listening to these pieces reveals Hofmann as a traditionalist; his music is tasteful and refined, characterized by formal clarity, a natural simplicity and an ingratiating charm. All of this is immediately apparent in the sample I have in the right sidebar for you to hear. It's the third movement Govotte from the Octet Op. 80 for flute, clarinet, horn, bassoon, 2 violins, viola and cello, and is quite irresistible.

The very generous 78 minute program is performed with impeccable technique and musicality by the Berolina Ensemble. This group of young Berlin musicians is dedicated to bringing to light, deserving music of the late Classical and Romantic eras which has fallen into obscurity. They've scored a hit with this release, beautifully recorded by the audiophile MD&G; label, making it an absolute success on all levels.

Here's a sample from the other Hofmann album recommended on E.A., a movement from his Hungarian Suite, Op. 16