Montag, 21. März 2016

Kurt Weill - Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2 - Lady In The Dark

A student of Busoni, Kurt Weill wasn't just the tunesmith of "The Threepenny Opera." In a tangy, neo-classical style, the German composer wrote two symphonies, a violin concerto and a string quartet. This disc features the symphonies, plus a "Symphonic Nocturne" arranged from his 1940 Broadway show "Lady in the Dark."
The piquant reeds and whistle-worthy tunes of Weill's Brechtian theater masterpieces are apparent in his symphonies, especially the Second, of 1934. For his EMI recording, Mariss Jansons had the Berlin Philharmonic bite into the Second with pre-war edginess. While not ignoring the spirit of Stravinsky in both symphonies, Marin Alsop has her English orchestra caress the music more, bringing out its almost erotic allure.

While he left as extensive and as significant an output of stage-works as any composer active during the first half of the twentieth century, the contribution of Kurt Weill to orchestral and instrumental genres was largely restricted to his formative years as a composer from 1918 to 1924. Although he had attempted opera in several unfinished and now lost projects during and after the first World War, Weill’s earliest major works are a String Quartet (1918), a Suite for Orchestra (1919) and a Cello Sonata (1920). Yet an urge towards more concrete expression was inevitable in the social climate of post-war Germany, with political left and right fighting for supremacy as the country moved shakily towards a republic. Something of this turmoil can be gauged from the Symphony Weill completed in 1921, but which remained unperformed – and was for many years thought lost or destroyed before being located, surprisingly, in an Italian convent – until 1956.

"An intriguing musical side-glance at Kurt Weill's output. The First Symphony, from 1921, was written at the time when Weill was studying with Busoni. The Second, from 1934, is a much stronger work: it was premiered by Bruno Walter in Amsterdam and is well worth hearing. Marin Alsop and her doughty Bournemouth ensemble play with tremendous spirit, thrillingly recorded."

The disc concludes with "Lady in the Dark: Symphonic Nocturne", a concert suite of familiar tunes from Weill´s American period, arranged by Robert Russell Bennett, that provide a diverting departure from the dark and unrelenting march of history that has come before.

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