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Weill Violin Concerto and Chen Yi Dragon Rhyme

Naxos 8.572889 (2010)

Kurt Weill's 1924 neo-classic violin concerto is always tricky to balance, but it is well done with the American Hart School Wind Ensemble for Naxos.

Also rewarding is Chen Li's picturesque diptych Mysteriously-Harmoniously and Energetically with a large percussion contingent.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See Dragon-Rhyme-Hartt-School-EnsembleFiveStars

Berg, Hindemith, Korngold, Schreker,
Weigl, Weill, Wellesz & Zemlinsky

Egon Wellesz 3rd quartet
Berg Lyric Suite
Weigl 5th Quartet
Zemlinsky 4th quartet

Artis-Quartett Wien

Weill / Violin Concerto
Hindemith / Kammermusik No.1
Korngold / 'Much Ado about Nothing Suite'
Schreker / Chamber Symphony

Clio Gould, violin
Aurora Orchestra / Nicholas Collon





Kings Place, London, 29th & 30th January 2010

We were able to cover two of the From Vienna to Weimar series curated by Aurora Orchestra, with unexpected results. The Artis-Quartett Wien gave a revelatory evening of rare string quartets of which only Berg's Lyric Suite was familiar. It was played with conviction and the assurance which comes only with long experience.

The Artis play standing up, apart from the cellist (part of whose concert apparel had gone astray on the way to London), and bring a quiet authority to repertoire which they have made their own and recorded. These musicians had come together as students in 1980, since when the quartet had retained the same personell; a record, surely?

Wellesz's No 3 (1918) remained unperformed during his lifetime. It sounded overly academic in parts - he spent his later life in Oxford, making extensive scholarly contributions to the study of Byzantine music. Weigl's No 5 (1933) reminded us that Schonberg's group included some composers who held to 'conservative romanticism' amongst the pluralism of the time. Zemlinsky's No 4 (1936), a suite in six movements in memoriam Alban Berg, is deeply serious and contemplative, finishing with a double fugue. A very satisfying evening, but poorly attended.

There was a more substantial audience for Aurura Orchestra's own concert, which looked more enticing in prospect than it delivered in actuality. It began with a rumbustious outing for the most adventurous of Hindemith's youthful Kammermusik No 1, the orchestra filling the stage and tending to overwhelm its acoustic. The young Korngold's lush score for Much ado about nothing anticipated the future Hollywood film composer of years on and outstayed its welcome.

In Weill's violin concerto Clio Gould had to contend with a wind orchestra, which did not look to be much fun for her, nor indeed for we listeners; this was weill the avant-gardist, before he opted for a more listener friendly idiom in Die Dreigroschenoper.

Strangely, the largest orchestra of the evening (with doubled strings etc) supplied the quietest and most euphonious sounds. Schreker's Chamber Symphony (1916) remains his most frequently performed work today and is an example of high romanticism of the time, and it did the best for these gifted young freelancers, brought together for the concert, and for Nicholas Collon's conducting of them, which we had first enjoyed at the Royal Academy of Music.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See Wellesz Quartets CDs