Weill: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2, Lady in the Dark Symphonic Nocturne

Weill: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 2, Lady in the Dark Symphonic Nocturne

by Marin Alsop
     
 

After Marin Alsop's many excellent recordings of Romantic repertoire, it's something of a surprise to find her turning to the symphonies of Kurt Weill. This is music that has left Romanticism behind, renouncing orchestral lushness in favor of the streamlined, brittle sound of modernity. In keeping with Weill's theatrical genius, however,See more details below

Overview

After Marin Alsop's many excellent recordings of Romantic repertoire, it's something of a surprise to find her turning to the symphonies of Kurt Weill. This is music that has left Romanticism behind, renouncing orchestral lushness in favor of the streamlined, brittle sound of modernity. In keeping with Weill's theatrical genius, however, these works -- especially the more mature Second Symphony -- have a strong dramatic impulse and melodic sense, qualities that Alsop responds to acutely. In the Second Symphony (1933), Weill uses rhythm as a propulsive force across each movement, making it an heir to Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, with the rhythms updated for a new era. At the same time, the tunes cry out for some acidic Bertolt Brecht lyrics -- the sound of Weill's stage works, especially Mahagonny or Der Silbersee, is close at hand. Weill's single-movement First Symphony (1921), on the other hand, is a precocious student work, with hints of the distinctive voice he developed during the '20s mixed with vestiges of angst-filled expressionism. It's well worth hearing, even if the Second Symphony is the one you'll want to return to more often. Alsop's disc concludes with a nod to Weill's "second career" as a composer for Broadway after his 1935 emigration to the United States. Lady in the Dark (1940) featured several memorable tunes, including the ballad "My Ship" and the show-stopping "Saga of Jenny," which are the bookends for the concert suite included here, arranged from the original score by Robert Russell Bennett. Although Weill's orchestral music has been adequately represented on disc, there have been few standout recordings (Mariss Jansons' version of the Second Symphony with the Berlin Philharmonic being a rare exception). Alsop's CD, however, sets a new standard, making it a must-have for Weill fans and an unrivalled top recommendation in this repertoire.

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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Blair Sanderson
Unlike his insouciant, cabaret-styled music for "The Threepenny Opera," Kurt Weill's "Symphony No. 1" (1921) and his "Symphony No. 2" (1933-1934) seem more dutifully observant of the European Classical tradition and perhaps a little straight-jacketed by formal obligations. This is not to say that these symphonic essays are dull or artificial -- far from it. To the contrary, there are many charming melodies in the "Symphony No. 2" that will remind one of Weill's most tender ballads, and aspects of his biting sarcasm crop up in the acrid dissonances of the modernist "Symphony No. 1." Weill's symphonies have not yet become staples of the repertoire, perhaps because they seem too stiffly worked out, or are hard to reconcile with the composer of "Mack the Knife"; but both works show serious intentions, and are fascinating attempts at the form, suggestive of what Weill might have accomplished had he continued composing in the genre. The reliable Marin Alsop and the solid Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra deliver fully satisfying performances of these underplayed works, and also give a delightful rendition of Robert Russell Bennett's concert suite, "Lady in the Dark-Symphonic Nocturne," which is based on songs from the 1940 musical by Weill, Moss Hart, and Ira Gershwin. Naxos' sound quality is superb.
New York Times - Bernard Holland
The performances here are well organized, motivated and worth the trouble taken over them.
Gramophone - Patrick O'Connor
Excellent clear sound, at Naxos's price an easy recommendation.
Boston Globe - Richard Dyer
Alsop is completely on top of the various styles required, and she commands the craggy, formal terrain. The...BSO plays with strength and purpose for her.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/16/2005
Label:
Naxos
UPC:
0747313248124
catalogNumber:
8557481
Rank:
165999

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. Symphony No. 2  - Kurt Weill  - Marin Alsop  -  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  2. Symphony No. 1 ("Berliner Symphonie")  - Kurt Weill  - Marin Alsop  -  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  3. Lady in the Dark, musical play: Symphonic Nocturne, Concert Suite: Andante misteri  - Kurt Weill  - Marin Alsop  -  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  4. Lady in the Dark, musical play: Symphonic Nocturne, Concert Suite: 'Girl of the Mo  - Kurt Weill  - Marin Alsop  -  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  5. Lady in the Dark, musical play: Symphonic Nocturne, Concert Suite: Bolero 'This Is  - Kurt Weill  - Marin Alsop  -  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  6. Lady in the Dark, musical play: Symphonic Nocturne, Concert Suite: Allegro alla ma  - Kurt Weill  - Marin Alsop  -  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  7. Lady in the Dark, musical play: Symphonic Nocturne, Concert Suite: 'Dance of the T  - Kurt Weill  - Marin Alsop  -  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra
  8. Lady in the Dark, musical play: Symphonic Nocturne, Concert Suite: 'The Saga of Je  - Kurt Weill  - Marin Alsop  -  Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra

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