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Weigl - Symphony No 6; Old Vienna CD

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Product details

  • Orchestra: Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra
  • Conductor: Thomas Sanderling, Alun Francis
  • Composer: Karl Weigl
  • Audio CD (3 Jan. 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Bis
  • Other Editions: Audio CD
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 278,493 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By J. A. Peacock on 23 Oct. 2009
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
When I recently reviewed the Nimbus disc of two of Karl Weigl's string quartets, Weigl - String Quartets 1 & 5, a fellow reviewer asked me if I was familiar with the composer's two last symphonies and what my thoughts were on them. I had coincidentally just received the two BIS discs on which those symphonies had been released but I said that I needed more time to get to know these two late works.

Having now spent some time listening to this disc, my initial impressions of this music - dark hues, intellectual rigour, and sobriety of expression - have been partially confirmed. This isn't music that reveals its secrets easily or that plays to the gallery - as with the string quartets, the symphonies are works that require concentration but that also reward close listening.

Weigl's idiom is essentially a late-Romantic one - in 1938, Schoenberg called him "one of the best composers of the old school..." - but also a somewhat austere one; listening to the sixth symphony, with its predominantly sombre orchestral colouring, you might be surprised at the expansive instrumental forces Weigl commands here - including triple woodwind, percussion and harp. I don't mean to suggest that any of this music is monochrome in effect, although that was the prevailing impression I had when I first listened to it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 2 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Masterpiece from a Forgotten Legacy 23 Sept. 2012
By AndrewCF - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The alienation of established German, Austrian, and Polish composers, such as Korngold, Weigl, Rathaus, and Braunfels, who fled Europe or their homelands to avoid Nazi persecution only to find that their reputations did not follow them, is an undeserved ignobility; recognition of these gifted composers has been all too slow, at least according to the concert hall and the recording industry (although Korngold has enjoyed a spate of new recordings of his violin concerto). Speaking of Korngold, who was highly celebrated on the continent, the composer found himself a virtual unknown in the United States; while it hardly seems appropriate to call his amazing film scoring something to which he was "relegated," he never achieved the same success in the concert hall for non-cinematic works. Karl Weigl, praised by Schoenberg, and Karol Rathaus, who studied with Schreker, supported themselves by teaching rather than commissions. In many instances, their concert pieces were premiered years after they had passed.

Karl Weigl's Symphony No. 6 is his most Mahlerian of the recorded works before the public. While eschewing the formal structure and atonality of the Serialists, Weigl's musical influence is founded in the Bruckner/Mahler school. In this work you will hear the gallows marches you hear all through Mahler's symphonies, especially in the 4th movement. While Weigl's Adagio is not as searing and heart-wrenching as the Adagietto in Mahler's 5th Symphony, it is poignant and perhaps, the most personal expression of melancholy in all of his recorded works. What strikes the listener is the subtle use of dissonance in this symphony, making the listener contemplate what the composer may have had achieved had he lived longer.

If the title "Old Vienna" inspires dread that one will be subjected to audible schlagobers, one need not fear. While a pastiche that includes waltzes and Austro-Hungarian marches, this delightful work is more a musing than a specific memory. Written soon after he arrived in America, the listener is not overwhelmed with sentimentality.

The conducting by Thomas Sanderling and Alun Francis, respectively, is first-rate, as is the recording.

No matter how uncertain I am that these overlooked composers may someday regain their lost reputations, there are devoted conductors who are bringing forth their deserving works. Korngold has had two nearly complete sets of his orchestral pieces on ASV and Chandos, and his piano music and chamber works are flourishing in terms of recordings. Hans Gal has seen a resurgence on Avie. Simon Laks can be found on the Poland Abroad series for EDA. Ideally, these composers don't need my promotion to distinguish their undeniable quality; you only have to listen to Korngold's Das Wunder der Heliane, Braufels' Die Vogel, Rathaus' Symphony No. 1, and Weigl's Symphonies 5 and 6 to realize their mastery and importance.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Symphony of haunted memory 28 May 2014
By Firebrand - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Karl Weigl, a compatriot of Mahler, and Mahler's assistant conductor at the Vienna Court Opera, deserves recognition as a formidable composer in his own right. In addition to being a member of Mahler's inner circle, he studied under Zemlinsky and Guido Adler, alongside Webern, and Schoenberg. Weigl's style was rich and late romantic with touches of the more modernist, but little if any of what would eventually become the Second Viennese school. In other words, Weigl's sound could be viewed as a true Mahler parallel, as well as one that has absorbed Bruckner.

Composed in 1947 (Weigl escaped Nazi Germany in 1938), with the horrors of World War II not far from the proceedings, the Weigl Sixth is an imposing and dramatic work full of sorrow and tragedy. It is one of the few post-Mahler symphonies that a scale and language quite reminiscent of Mahler himself---more so than other composers who are said to be "Mahler-esque"--- but with unique qualities of its own. A big and elegiac first movement is followed by a bitter scherzo (very Mahler-esque), a poignant adagio, and a huge finale that rises out of flame and struggle. Conductor Thomas Sanderling and the Berlin Rundfunks perform brilliantly. The other work, "Old Vienna" (conducted by Alun Francis) is idiomatically Austrian and a moving memory of what Weigl left behind.

Highest recommendation for this disc, which I hope will go a long way to raising awareness of this forgotten composer.

(Weigl's Fifth symphony, the "Apolcalyptic" dedicated to the memory of Franklin D. Roosevelt, also deserves to be heard.)
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