ALBUM TITLE: Weigl
WORKS: Symphony No. 6; Old Vienna
PERFORMER: Radio SO, Berlin/Thomas Sanderling, Alun Francis
CATALOGUE NO: CD-1167
When Karl Weigl moved to the United Sates from Nazi-occupied Austria at the age of 57, he found it extremely difficult to adapt to his new cultural environment. He wrote prolifically until his death in 1949, but few of his later works were performed during his lifetime. Indeed this Sixth Symphony, his final orchestral testament, languished in total obscurity until the recording sessions for this disc.
This large-scale four-movement work, which is steeped in the Austro-German late-Romantic tradition of Mahler, Reger and Schmidt, is not as immediate as the apocalyptic Fifth. Nonetheless, it contains some haunting moments, notably the ethereally scored closing bars of the slow movement which evoke heartfelt nostalgia for the land he was forced to leave. The companion piece Old Vienna, a charming medley of waltzes, explores this theme in more overt terms, recalling an era that had vanished with the destruction of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
Aside from a few moments of smudgy orchestral ensemble in the Symphony, the performances are compelling, and Weigl’s rich scoring is matched by a suitably opulent recording. Erik Levi