KURT WEILL; Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2; Lady in the Dark (Symphonic Nocturne) – Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Marin Alsop – Naxos

by | Jun 13, 2006 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

KURT WEILL; Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2; Lady in the Dark (Symphonic Nocturne) – Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra/Marin Alsop – Naxos 8.557481, 74:02 *****:

Quite a change of pace for Marin Alsop from her acclaimed recent Brahms Symphonies recordings.  Weill is known mostly for his many stage works involving vocal music, but earlier in his career he created four strictly symphonic scores, and two of them are his First and Second Symphonies. No. 1 was written while he was still a student in Berlin and starting in a composition class with Busoni. At the time Mahler and Schoenberg were among his influences, and the single-movement symphony has plenty of expressionistic dissonances, but not according to serial techniques. It has an urgency about it but is not without some lovely lyrical passages.

The Second Symphony comes from 1934 and Weill’s move into a musical approach which communicates more directly to the masses. The work has three movements and may remind the listener of Russian composers more than German – Kabelevsky and the lighter music of Shostakovich, for example. This is a terrific and under-appreciated symphony to have available in such a convincing version as presented by Alsop and the Bournemouth players.  Lady in the Dark was a 1940 Weill musical.  The concert suite arrangement from the original score by Robert Russell Bennett uses six of both instrumental and vocal numbers, closing with an extended version of The Saga of Jenny.

– John Sunier

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