Karl Weigl: Symphony No. 6; Old Vienna

Karl Weigl: Symphony No. 6; Old Vienna

by Alun Francis


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Karl Weigl: Symphony No. 6; Old Vienna

Undeniably, Karl Ignaz Weigl and his music received more attention at the turn of the twenty first century than in the five decades after his death, yet this belated appraisal was much less than a full-blown revival. With only one recording apiece for his "Symphony No. 5, Apocalyptic" (1945), and his "Symphony No. 6" (1947), both in respectable performances by Thomas Sanderling and the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra on BIS, Weigl's symphonic output has been seriously under-represented on CD, and his chamber works have received only slightly more recognition in a handful of releases. Even so, Weigl's music might have staying power with conservative audiences, and his acceptance among ardent fans of the post-Romantic symphony is assured if they hear this disc. One attractive feature -- or troubling, depending on one's tastes -- is the striking similarity of Weigl's music with Bruckner's, insofar as it shares much of that composer's radiant tonal palette, four-square phrasing, expansive lyricism, and naïve scene-painting; listeners may experience a pleasant feeling of déjà vu when they hear this symphony, or reject it with disdain. Criticism for such blatant imitation is somewhat justified, especially when the extremely late date of composition is taken into account; skeptics may well wonder how Weigl could have passed off the "Symphony No. 6" as an original work without being chided for its obvious derivativeness, until its utter neglect is taken into account. This work was never played in Weigl's lifetime and remained untouched until rehearsals began for this recording, so Sanderling's warmly sympathetic account with the BRSO is the first ever given for the work. "Old Vienna" (1939) also receives its world-premiere recording here, and it is vulnerable to the same complaints as the symphony, especially because this potpourri of ländler and waltz themes comes perilously close to Bruckner's scherzo style, except for some occasional Straussian touches that make it sound a bit less simplistic. Yet lovers of the "second golden age" of Austrian orchestral music will find the resemblances delightful and deem this piece a wonderful discovery for its ample tunefulness and glowing timbres. BIS offers decent reproduction, so both pieces are fully audible without dropouts of sound in the softest passages.

Product Details

Release Date: 01/24/2006
Label: Bis
UPC: 7318590011676
catalogNumber: 1167


  1. Symphony No. 6
  2. Old Vienna, for orchestra

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