Saturday, 8 December 2012

'An adjunct to any collection'

August Klughardt
Quintet in C, Op. 79 (1901)
for bassoon, clarinet, flute, horn, and oboe

1. Allegro non troppo 2. Scherzo
3. Andante 4. Adagio-Allegro-Vivace.

Gewandhaus Wind Quintet (Bläser-Quintet), Leipzig

Polydor 65796 & 65797 
(1272as, 1273as, 1274as, 1275as)
(recorded June /July 1923)

1 Flac , Here at Mediafire. [about 43Mb]

Klughardt is hardly today a household name, his fame as a composer, such as it is, seems to have dissipated soon after he died in 1902. Only the Festival Overture, Op 54 has ever been performed at a London Proms, and that was back in 1901. The Wind Quintet has been resurrected once in a while and but I have been unable to find a public performance in the UK at all during 20th century with the only one broadcast performance in 1997, from a recording, at 2 o'clock in the morning on BBC Radio 3.

This was the first recording made, or at least the one first issued by the Leipzig Gewandhaus Wind Quintet. Whatever possessed them to record Klughard's Quintet I can't imagine, I can only think that it was a popular piece with the LGWQ and probably they liked performing it. DGG thought it was worth issuing but did not think to re-record the work when electrical recording came in. As the sides on this copy bear marks for first and second stampers I would guess that few copies were pressed either in Germany or for export, as here, with the Polydor label - possibly the records are quite uncommon anyway as this is the only copy that has come my way or indeed I have seen.

The biography of Klughardt on Wikipedia neatly sums up the composers career as 'a rather conservative composer in spite of his interest in more modern tendencies.'

The musicologist and historian Wilhelm Altmann writing in Cobbett's Cyclopedic Survey of Chamber Music gives his succinct estimation of the composition: 'The Wind Quintet Op. 79 should be of special interest to wind societies. The individual instruments are handled with admiral skill, the possibilities of the clarinet and horn, in particular, being well realized. The musical side of the work is also admirable and perfectly clear. Yet again one looks in vain for broad, original ideas which would make a lasting impression; in all four movements the music is of the agreeable, entertaining order. The composer's natural humour shows itself in the first movement, in the scherzo-like allegro vivace, and the still more in the rapid last movement which is preceded by a short introductory adagio. The tastefully conceived andante grazioso – a minuet in fact, though not so entitled – may be regarded as the most effective movement. It is not quite fair to neglect Klughard, even though he seems a dwarf in stature when compared to Brahms.'

Each movement in this recording forms a single side, the first movement, being the longest has had the centre section lopped out of it, but the flow of the music for all that does not seem too disfigured.

I cannot think that the issue on Polydor sold too well in the UK, for in reviewing the first batch of Polydor discs Compton Mackenzie [Gramophone, October 1925 p. 221] pulls no punches: 'There are a couple of good records of Klughardt for a wind quintet, if you like quintets; personally I hate them.'

The next month in the column headed Trade Winds and Idle Zephyrs a more upbeat assessment is reported from a correspondent 'Dr Francis Mead draws special attention to 65796-7, quintet for flute, oboe, horn and bassoon, by Klughardt - “an adjunct to any collection”' [Gramophone, November 1925 p. 281.] In the following year a Mr G.A. Tomlinson of the Richmond and District Gramophone Society played the records as part of a programme slotting the Klughardt between Purcell's Golden Sonata and the Forging Song from Wagner's Siegfried. [Gramophone, July 1926 p. 71].

No mention of this work or any other recording of any piece by Klughardt appears on 78. The advent of LP however had two versions issued at about the same time by the Chicago Symphony Woodwind Quintet [Audiophile AP 14] and the New Art Wind Quintet [Classic Edition CE 2020]. It was not until the late LP era that the work started to hit it's stride, but even then reviews are sparse and none has ever appeared in The Gramophone, tut tut.

I have rather sparse information of the performers such as it is is tabulated below.

Gunther Weigelt (no dates obtained) bassoon.
Willi Schreninicke (1893?-1979) clarinet. The first clarinetist of Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra from 1918.
Carl Bartuzat (1882-1959) flute. A pupil of Maximilian Schwedler performed with the Theatre Orchestra of Leipzig and was one of several principle flautists of the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra between 1918 and 1951.
Richard Schaller (no dates obtained) horn. Performed as third horn with the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra from 1911 to 1951.
Walter Heinze ( no dates obtained) oboe.

Leipzig Gewandhaus 1900


  1. Another rare item! I enjoy your detailed notes about the works, composers, contemporary reviews, etc. They add so much to the understanding and enjoyment of historical records.

  2. Thank you for making an old grump happy! Now we just need their Ambrosius, Beethoven, Hindemith, Laurischkus, Lendvai, Mozart, Onslow, Reicha...

    1. Sorry, I forgot to say, great transfer too, thanks again! I think what possessed them to perform and record this music is that until very recently been it had part of a living, active chamber music repertoire, which nobody had any reason to think would not go on being added to and played forever, like German civilization and culture themselves. Then along came beastly change, decay, war, inflation, Schoenberg, the 1920s, the 1930s... But back around 1900 it must have seemed as if a new Athens/Rome really had been built, and this was one of the tiny bricks.

  3. Anyone who dismisses the (rather large) list of great music from the Second Viennese School and its following (Bartok, for example), does so at their peril. Chamber music looms large in Schoenberg, Hindemith, Berg, Webern, Bartok . . . so there was no "end" to this portion of German (and other) cultures. Some of the lesser talents produced junk, but there are third-rate Romantic and Classical composers, also.