WEILL: Concerto for Violin and Wind Orchestra, Op. 12; STRAVINSKY: L’histoire du soldat – suite; MILHAUD: Suite, Op. 157B for violin, clarinet and piano/ Gabriele Pieranunzi, violin/ Enrico Pieranunzi, piano/ Alessandro Carbonare, clarinet/ Soloists of the San Carlo Theatre, Naples/ Jeffrey Tate – Musica Media Concerto Classics CD 2071, 52:54 [Distr. by Naxos] ****:


This release offers rare 20th-century chamber music by fairly well known composers, namely Kurt Weill (1900–1950), Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971) and Darius Milhaud (1892–1974).

Weill’s violin concerto from 1925 pre-dates just about everything he is known for such as The Three Penny Opera and other works for the stage. While it is not made clear that Tate conducts this work, it makes sense, since the other works are for small instrumental groups on this disc. The violin concerto is acerbic, cerebral and, at times, dissonant. [Quite unlike his later works…Ed.] Violinist Gabriele Pieranunzi acquits this music well and Tate and the wind orchestra provide strong support. It is not Weill’s most likable work, but it does grow on you.

Due to the rhythmic complexity of Stravinsky’s 1918 L’histoire du soldat, Tate may also have been involved in this performance. This version of the suite is exceedingly strange. There are just three sections listed: (1) Trois danses: tango–valse–ragtime; (2) No.3 from Three Pieces for Clarinet Solo and (3) (a) Improigor (E. Pieranunzi) (b) Danse du diable (I. Stravinsky). Why they chose to perform the one section of the Three Pieces (also from 1918), is unknown, though it does give Carbonare something more to do. The “Improigor” appears to be a composition of pianist E. Peranunzi who is noted also as a jazz performer. The choices really don’t give us a true suite, but rather a collection of pieces exhibiting the talents of the musicians.

Darius Milhaud’s 1936 Suite, Op. 157B for violin, clarinet and piano is taken from his incidental music to Le voyageur sans bagage. Milhaud is famous for the ballets Le boeuf sur le toit and La création du monde. Milhaud employed jazz and folk music (French and South American) in his compositions to great effect.

All of the performances are excellent and recorded in front of a live audience. The sound is realistic. The booklet is in Italian and English. It would have been nice to have more information about the pieces performed and less of the opinions of the performers.

—Zan Furtwangler