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
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
CD INFORMATION - NIMBUS NI 5646
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