Heinrich Hofmann: 
Piano Trio in A-Major, Op. 18

with Margarita Rumyantseva, Matthias Balzat and Shushan Hunanyan

The perfect mix between Mendelssohn and Brahms!

Heinrich Hofmann's Piano Trio, Op. 18, stands as a testament to the composer's remarkable talent and craftsmanship in the realm of chamber music. Born on January 13, 1842, in Berlin, Heinrich Hofmann embarked on a musical journey that would see him explore various forms and genres, leaving behind a legacy that, although obscured by time, is rich with artistic merit.

Composed during a period of great musical innovation and cultural change, the Piano Trio, Op. 18, reflects the romantic sensibilities of its time while showcasing Hofmann's unique musical voice. The work is structured in accordance with the classical sonata form, yet Hofmann's inventive melodic ideas and harmonic language imbue it with a freshness and vitality that captivates the listener.

Mendelssohn's influence on Hofmann's music is evident in his ability to craft emotionally evocative melodies within classical forms, as seen in works like his Piano Trio, Op. 18. Similarly, Brahms's meticulous attention to structure and harmonic exploration left a lasting mark on Hofmann's compositional style, enriching his chamber music and piano compositions with depth and complexity. While Hofmann's music maintains its distinct voice, echoes of both Mendelssohn and Brahms can be discerned in its lyrical beauty and harmonic richness.

The opening movement, typically marked Allegro or Vivace, unfolds with a sense of urgency and purpose. Hofmann's gift for melody is evident from the outset, as he weaves intricate motifs and thematic material throughout the movement, creating a tapestry of sound that is both engaging and compelling.

The second movement, often a slow and introspective Adagio or Andante, provides a moment of respite from the fervor of the first. Here, Hofmann demonstrates his mastery of lyrical expression, crafting a melody that soars above the accompanying piano and cello, transporting the listener to a world of sublime beauty and emotion.

The third movement, typically a scherzo or minuet, injects a sense of playfulness and lightness into the work. Hofmann's use of rhythmic vitality and thematic development keeps the listener on their toes, while moments of contrast provide depth and complexity to the musical narrative.

Finally, the fourth movement, often a lively Allegro or Presto, brings the trio to a thrilling conclusion. Hofmann's skillful manipulation of form and structure ensures a satisfying resolution to the musical journey, leaving the listener invigorated and uplifted.

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Heinrich Hofmann: 
"Das Märchen von der
schönen Melusine"

with Farnoosh Rahimi, Austėja Valušytė and Valentin Ruckebier.

Heinrich Hofmann's Musical Legacy

With our latest release we are showcasing the works of 19th-century composer Heinrich Hofmann. Born in Berlin in 1842, Hofmann's classical influences, including Mendelssohn and Schumann, shaped his distinct style marked by lyrical melodies and emotional depth.

The premiere features Valentin Ruckebier in the heartfelt aria "Raimunds Lied" and a beautiful duet with Farnoosh Rahimi, bringing to life the narrative of "Das Märchen von der schönen Melusine." This cantata, set for orchestra, chorus, and soloists, unfolds a captivating love story between the knight Raimund and the mythical mermaid Melusine, based on the text by Wilhelm Osterwald. In the duet, Raimund confesses his love to Melusine, and the two come together. However, their love can only exist under a condition, the disregard of which ultimately leads to the knight's death. Dive into Hofmann's historical significance and timeless compositions.

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About the composer Heinrich Hofmann

Heinrich Hofmann, born on January 13, 1842 in Berlin, was a versatile German composer and pianist whose works gained popularity over time but were largely forgotten. His musical career began at the age of nine as a member of the Berlin Cathedral Choir, where he quickly developed his talent as a singer. His musical education was shaped by studies with renowned music teachers such as Theodor Kullak, Eduard Grell, Siegfried Dehn and Richard Wüerst.

Originally equipped with a promising soprano voice, financial constraints and a love of music led Heinrich Hofmann to switch to the world of piano playing and composition. His early years were characterized by hardship, but his participation in the choir of the Berlin Opera not only brought financial relief, but also enabled him to quickly grasp musical effects and integrate them into his own works.

Heinrich Hofmann's songs, about which unfortunately little is known today, are a fascinating example of the condensation of life worlds in musical form. In particular, his song cycles such as "Wanda, op. 44" and "Singuf, op. 58, 62, 82" reflect both socio-political and romantic-intimate facets. The selection and compositional design of these works demonstrate Hofmann's ability to combine a wide variety of moods and genres, from romantic lyricism to ballads and drinking songs.

Alongside his songs, Hofmann also created important orchestral works such as the "Hungarian Suite" and the "Frithjof Symphony", which were among the most frequently performed orchestral works in Germany. His style, which is described as classicist and shows influences from Mendelssohn and Schumann, brought him recognition, even if his works later fell into oblivion.

A central work in Hofmann's chamber music oeuvre is the Piano Quartet in D minor op. 50. Hofmann also devoted himself to other chamber music forms, including the Piano Trio op. 18 and works for cello and piano such as the Romance op. 48 and the Serenade op. 63. His versatility is evident in arrangements such as the Adagio from the Cello Concerto op. 31, arranged for violin by Johannes Lauterbach, or the Concert Piece for Flute and Orchestra. Even the Steppenbilder op. 39, originally for piano four hands, was adapted for violin and piano by Franz Ries.

Heinrich Hofmann also successfully devoted himself to the genre of opera. His works such as "Armin" (1877), "Ännchen von Tharau" (1878), "Wilhelm von Oranien" (1882) and "Donna Diana" (1886) were well received, with "Cartouche" (1869) marking his successful operatic debut.

Hofmann spent the last years of his life in Großtabarz in Thuringia. He died on July 16, 1902 at the age of 60 after a long period of suffering. Although his works faded into the background in the period after his death, they contributed to the diversity of the musical landscape.

Victor Nessler:
Three Ballads, Op. 37  

with Austėja Valušytė and Johannes Wedeking

Unveiling Shadows of the Past: Nessler's Ballads Come Alive

We are thrilled to announce the world premiere recordings of Victor Nessler's captivating 'Three Ballads for a Bass Voice', op. 37, available now on YouTube and for streaming. These pieces, steeped in medieval lore and performed with profound depth by bass Johannes Wedeking and pianist Austėja Valušytė, bring to life the tales of 'Der wunde Ritter,' 'Der Rattenfänger,' and 'Der Pilgrim vor St. Just.'

Victor Nessler, renowned for his melodic brilliance and emotional depth, paints vivid narratives with his compositions. These recordings offer a rare glimpse into the composer's exploration of medieval themes, showcasing the timeless allure of his music.

Join us in celebrating this significant addition to the classical music repertoire. Explore the haunting beauty of Nessler's ballads and immerse yourself in the stories they tell. Listen now and let the magic of these historical narratives resonate with you.

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About the composer Victor Nessler

Victor Ernst Nessler (1841–1890) was a German composer best known for his operas and art songs, which have captivated audiences with their melodic charm and rich harmonies. Born in Baldenheim, Alsace, Nessler's musical journey began in Strasbourg, where his talent quickly became evident, leading him to pursue formal studies in Leipzig. It was here that Nessler's distinctive style began to take shape, blending the romantic fervor of his time with a keen sense for drama and narrative depth.

Nessler's operas, such as "Der Trompeter von Säckingen" and "Der Rattenfänger von Hameln," showcase his ability to weave compelling stories with memorable music. These works gained considerable popularity in the late 19th century, celebrated for their accessible melodies and engaging plots that often drew upon German folklore and medieval themes.

Beyond the opera stage, Nessler's art songs reflect his lyrical sensitivity and a deep understanding of the voice. His compositions in this genre are notable for their emotional expressiveness and the seamless integration of vocal lines with piano accompaniment, making them cherished pieces in the lieder repertoire.

Throughout his career, Nessler remained dedicated to creating music that resonated with the public, achieving a balance between artistic innovation and widespread appeal. Despite his success, his works have become less frequently performed over time, making recent recordings and performances of his music especially valuable for introducing his oeuvre to new audiences.

Victor Ernst Nessler's contribution to the world of music remains significant, offering a bridge between the traditions of German romanticism and the evolving tastes of the late 19th century. His legacy continues to be appreciated by those who explore the depths of his compositions, discovering the timeless beauty and emotional depth of his musical narratives.

Joachim Raff: Piano-Suite No. 3

with Hyelim Kim

One of Raffs greatest piano works

In august we start the series "stille liebe Live-Sessions". The first in the series will be Joachim Raff's Suite für das Pianoforte Nr. 3, op. 72, which will be released on August 13th. The work is based on the baroque suite movements and yet comes with the virtuosity and powerful sound of a highly romantic piano composition. In the suite movements, Raff falls back on a main theme, which he takes up and varies again and again in an artistic and technically demanding manner. Hyelim Kim knows how to interpret the work in its very demanding structure with a wonderful ease and joy of playing. The recordings are published on all common streaming platforms and on youtube as a complete live video.

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Joachim Raff: Die Eifersüchtigen

Live-Recording with Joonas Pitkänen, Orchestra of Europe, Martin Roth, Benjamin Popson,  Serafina Giannoni,
 Balduin Schneeberger, Raísa Ierone,  Matthias Bein, Mirjam Fässler

The rediscovery of an opera

In autumn 2022, the opera "Die Eifersüchtigen" by Joachim Raff was premiered in Zurich by the Zurich Opera Collective. The Finnish conductor Joonas Pitkänen, who led the Orchestra of Europe and an excellent ensemble of singers, had the musical part. The opera was recorded in its entirety during the performances and an extra session. The "Eifersüchtigen" will appear on CD next year.

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Joachim Raff: Lieder

with Marina Unruh, Frederike Schulten, Lisa Wedekind
Wolfgang Klose, Johannes Wedeking, Hedayet Jonas Djeddikar

29 unsung Masterpieces

In the spring of 2020 recordings were made in the Kulturzentrum Immanuelskirche Wuppertal. The double-album is released by Sterling Records (sterlingcd.com) and contains 29 unknown pieces written across his whole composing career. The tracklist ranges from one of the earliest art-song compositions by Raff (Drei Lieder, to texts by J.G. Fischer, Op. 47; 1848) to songs from such later cycles as The Language of Flowers, Op. 191 (1874) and Blondel de Nesle, Op. 211 (1880). The CD is available since May 2021 at several resellers (jpc.de, amazon, itunes, etc. ). 

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About the composer Joachim Raff

Despite the abundance and high quality of Joachim Raff's (1822-82) songs, this part of his oeuvre is little known and documented - in contrast to his instrumental works, which have been recorded several times. Raff's song oeuvre has hardly been the subject of music-historical research. We sincerely hope and wish that this recording, which consists entirely of premiere performances, can interest someone in Raff's songs - so that we can encounter them more often in concerts. While Joachim Raff was in Liszt's employ, the older composer encouraged his younger colleague to devote himself to the creation of religious music literature. Raff was much more interested in keyboard and vocal music in general and the theater in particular. In July 1853 Raff composed his setting of the Te Deum, a rare concession to Liszt's encouragement, in response to a commission from the Roman Catholic Church in Weimar.
(Text by Hedayet Jonas Djeddikar and Johannes Wedeking)

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