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Karl WEIGL (1881-1949)
Violin Sonata No.2 in G major (1937) [25:21]
Two Pieces for cello and piano, Op.33 (1940) [10:56]
Two Pieces for violin and piano (1942) [8:10]
Piano Trio in D minor (1938-39) [27:14]
David Frühwirth (violin)
Benedict Kloeckner (cello)
Florian Krumpöck (piano)
rec. 2012/16, Studio Gärtnerstrasse, Berlin; Kurhaus, Semmering
CAPRICCIO C5318 [71:36]

Guided by Zemlinsky, Robert Fuchs and Guido Adler, Karl Weigl espoused turn-of-the-century Viennese late-romanticism but the four works in this disc catch him on either side of the Anschluss. There’s the previously unrecorded Violin Sonata No.2 of 1937, the Trio of 1937-38 and the smaller works composed in the early days of the War when Weigl was in America.

If he represented, in Schoenberg’s words, ‘one of those who continued the glittering Viennese tradition’ Weigl did so with an unwavering devotion to tradition and tonality. The Sonata’s tart lyricism exemplifies this congenial spirit well as does the relaxed ruminative passagework and the rather rarefied beauty of the slow movement’s piano statements which are, eventually, taken up by the violin. The light-hearted finale sweeps all care away. It was premiered by Roman Totenberg

The other large-scale work is the Piano Trio, a rather more overtly Brahmsian piece. After its private premiere it languished unperformed and unpublished until only fairly recently - you can find a recording of it by the Osiris Trio on Challenge Classics CC72614 and there was an earlier recording on Albany TROY437. This is a work on a larger scale than the Violin Sonata and it too shows the revealing refinement and limpidity of Weigl’s piano writing, notably again in the slow movement, which really brought the best from him. Weigl treads a thoughtful line between refinement and effusive expression, almost always managing to promote elegance without overt passion.

The two pieces for cello of 1940 have also been recorded before. The first is a Love Song, adapted from a lied of 1936, and the second a Wild Dance with a particularly vivid Romantic central panel. It was dedicated to Toscanini, perhaps incongruously; though of the course the conductor had been a cellist – if the intention was to interest him in his large–scale orchestral music it doesn’t seem to have worked. Regarding his later symphonic work in America, it was to be Stokowski who premiered the Fifth Symphony in Carnegie Hall many years after the composer’s death.

The two pieces for violin and piano offer a similar bipartite contrast as those for cello; a delicate Notturno with ripe piano chording and a lithe but never brittle, always delightful Hungarian Dance.

The booklet note is precise, thoughtful and clear. The recording is slightly more sympathetically balanced to the strings than the piano but it’s not otherwise problematic. And the performances are astutely judged and well projected.

Jonathan Woolf


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