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Weigl the unknown, with BASIL RAMSEY

Nimbus    NI 5646

Karl Weigl - String Quartets 1 and 5 (c) 2000 Nimbus Records Ltd.


The Viennese composer Karl Weigl distanced himself from Nazi Europe in 1938 and took residence in America, only to die ten years later from cancer, following a sad period of virtual isolation. Stokowski premiered the fifth symphony at Carnegie Hall in 1968, but this was insufficient to stir more than passing interest.

Previously, Weigl was a pupil of Zemlinski, and a colleague of Mahler and Schönberg, leading a busy musical life in Vienna. His music was played and admired, and amongst his pupils were Eisler and Korngold.

Ours is a generation which has restored some neglected composers to a semblance of attention and performance, but all too many have slipped through the net, and Weigl is amongst them. This record and its content commands immediate respect. The Artis Quartet plays this glorious and sometimes happy-go-lucky music with an intense commitment that alerts our musical instincts. After that you know what must follow.

Without knowledge of Weigl's other music, 70 minutes of quartet writing arising from the page with a variety of elements instantly blended to take hold of our feelings and thrust them on a memorable journey, has my enthusiastic vote. Doubtless this is sharpened and driven by the Artis Quartet.

It is agonising in such circumstances to select representative snippets to tempt the ear, but here first is an extract from the first quartet's slow movement [listen -- track 2, 5:04-5:51] and from the fifth quartet's second movement [listen -- track 6, 0:00-0:44].

I have a strong feeling that more of Karl Weigl's music will reach the recording studio before too long.


Copyright © 6 December 2000 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK







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Record Box is Music & Vision's regular Wednesday series of shorter CD reviews