Pal Herman: Complete Surviving Music Series Ends with Delightful Oddities

Pál Hermann should have toured the world, receiving his due as one of the 20th Century’s greatest cellists. Pál Hermann should have developed his compositional skills. And in time Pal Hermann should have graduated to large-form works. 

Pál Hermann should have left a rich legacy of recordings. Pál Hermann should have lived past age 42. 

But Pal Hermann was a Jew in 1930s Europe. His career was curtailed in Nazi-controlled countries. He moved to France, and then to the Free Zone in southern France after Germany invaded. He was captured in 1944 and died en route to a Lithuanian extermination camp. 

Hermann’s surviving music shows a composer of great imagination and promise. The first volume in the Toccata Classics series presented his Cello Concerto and other orchestral works. Volume Two focused on his chamber and instrumental music, mostly for stringed instruments. 

This final volume rounds up the odds and ends of Hermann’s catalog. And in the process, round out the portrait of these talented musicians. 

Hermann was a cello virtuoso, but his musical interests were far-ranging. He loved early music. Hermann played with an early music ensemble while in school. His Suite for Three Recorders and his Saraband for Lute are charming homages to Renaissance music. 

The Divertissement for harpsichord is less so.  Hermann writes some decidedly modern music for the instrument. 

Also included is a variety of short piano pieces. There’s even a work for piano four hands. And his small collection of songs is also present. 

Hermann did not survive the war, but his music did. It’s taken a while, but that music lives again in these Toccata Classics recordings. To my ears, they sound as fresh and inventive as the day they were penned. 

Recommended — and not just this volume, but the entire series.

Pál Hermann: Complete Surviving Music, Volume Three
Chamber, Instrumental, and Vocal Music
Various Artists, including Mikko Pablo, cello; Matthieu Walendzik, baritone; Lena Zhukova, harpsichord; Nicolas Horvath and Dimitri Malignan, piano
Toccata Classics 

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