Ingo Metzmacher was the conductor, new to the Philharmonic although he led a creditable Così fan tutte with the L.A. Opera some time ago. His luggage this time included the Trumpet Concerto by Zimmermann, with Hakan Hardenberger as soloist, and the Sixth Symphony by Hartmann: works composed almost simultaneously, in 1953 and ’54. Both composers were sorely bruised by the war: Hartmann, the energetic, athletic classicist who dabbled in atonality but left music of gripping, neo-romantic expressiveness; Zimmermann, the neurotic, banner-waving activist who took his life in 1970, at 52.
Zimmermann’s concerto, like his stupendous opera Die Soldaten, stands for a disturbed postwar Germany torn in many directions. Jazz plays a part, a heavy-handed, posturing kind. The old tune “Nobody Knows de Trouble I See” is referenced, but tentatively; its melodic gambit, the descending major sixth, could just as easily pass for Chopin’s Andante Spianato or Louise’s pretty aria “Depuis le jour.” The solo writing is kicky, a meal for the great Hardenberger, but the work is more about incertitude than resolve — understandable in light of Zimmermann’s fate.
The Hartmann — and perhaps one or two others among his eight solid if a trifle stolid symphonies — deserves its place in its century’s memorable works. Its finale, razzle-dazzle under Metzmacher’s sure, knowing direction, delivers three fugues one by one and then runs them simultaneously in a breathless outpouring of sheer complexity. You could almost see old J.S. Bach smiling in the wings; his truth goes marching on.