Krenek: Violin Concerto No. 1; violin Concerto No. 2; Double Concerto for Violin, Piano & Small Orchestra, Op. 124

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COMPOSERS: Krenek
LABELS: Koch Schwann
WORKS: Violin Concerto No. 1; violin Concerto No. 2; Double Concerto for Violin, Piano & Small Orchestra, Op. 124
PERFORMER: Peter Rosenberg (violin), Gabriel Rosenberg (piano); Bamberg SO/Florian Merz
CATALOGUE NO: 3-6408-2
Koch seems to be one of the few record companies these days prepared to fly the flag for Ernst Krenek. Its earlier release of the cello works with David Geringas provided a useful starting point for exploring a composer whose enormous output and occasionally abstruse musical language have proved inaccessible to many listeners.

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Those who persevered with the cello disc will surely find rewards in the two violin concertos. The first, composed in the early Twenties, breathes the air of neo-classicism in its highly rhythmic passagework and harsh orchestral textures, yet there are also some more tender moments that may well have been inspired by the composer’s amorous liaison with Australian violinist Alma Moodie, the work’s dedicatee. By contrast, the Second, written 30 years later, is a product of Krenek’s serial phase, though rigorous adherence to this technique does not inhibit its grand symphonic design and the fiery expression of its outer movements. The modestly conceived Double Concerto provides a nostalgic interlude between these two works, its sequence of dance movements reflecting the composer’s longing for his Austrian homeland.

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Curiously enough, both violin concertos are already represented in the catalogue through recommendable versions from Chantal Juillet for No. 1 (Decca) and Ernst Kovacic in No. 2 (Orfeo). But Romanian-born violinist Peter Rosenberg is certainly their equal, and he enjoys the benefit of a more incisive orchestral accompaniment. Erik Levi