- Suite for violin, clarinet & piano, Op. 157b
- L'histoire du soldat (The Soldier's Tale), suite transcribed for violin, clarinet & piano
- Concerto for violin & wind orchestra, Op. 12
The marquee work here, Kurt Weill's "Concerto for violin and wind orchestra, Op. 12," was composed in 1924 and has been recorded a number of times. The work originated shortly after the end of Weill's period of study, which included lessons from both Engelbert Humperdinck and Ferruccio Busoni, and it has a little of everything in it. Those looking for premonitions of "The Threepenny Opera" and Weill's later popular career will find jazz impulses, beneath the surface and ready to break out, but it's not the most prominent feature; dissonance rules in the five short movements that mix Stravinsky's neo-classical stasis with Schoenberg's rigor of material. It's not an easy work to love, but it comes off very well here. Partly that's due to the taut playing of violinist Gabriele Pieranunzi and the Soloists of the San Carlo Theatre, Naples. These might not be musicians you would naturally pick for this repertory, but Pieranunzi and his brother Enrico are fluent in jazz as well as classical music, and the rest of the program, with its stronger jazz component, brings out the stylistic issues of the whole period, the varying responses of European composers as they tried to deal with the startling new music coming from America. Pairing the Weill with music from Stravinsky's jazziest period and with the more playful take of Milhaud results in a thread that connects the whole. The players don't add jazz improvisation, but they do insert a short composition by Enrico Pieranunzi into the sequence of pieces by Stravinsky. There doesn't seem to be any very good reason for this, but in general this recording puts across the stylistically plural musical world of the 1920s better than most.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Nice collection of jazz inspired classics sure to please! The excellent booklet notes to this stimulating new release by the Soloists of the San Carlo Theatre points out that the attachment of classical forms to jazz templates and the use of jazz notions in classical pieces was an undeniable component of what was called the "short twentieth century." This wonderful collection features three of the best known of these pieces. The "Concerto for Violin and Wind Ensemble" by Kurt Weill was written in 1924 and features some of Weill's best concert hall works. The very unusual scoring works really well in his treatment of the wind ensemble as a sort of dance hall ensemble with a very difficult and concertino-like solo violin. Originally written for Joseph Szigeti, present soloist Gabriele Pieranunzi plays very well throughout. This recording is every bit as good as the Daniel Hope/William Boughton one - my other favorite. Stravinsky wrote his "L'Histoire du Soldat" in 1918 as a sort of mini-opera intended as a traveling work requiring no staging. He later wrote the suite, heard here, for clarinet, violin and piano. The inclusion of the third of the solo clarinet pieces is not always done. Written for Werner Reinhart, the benefactor who helped finance the 'Soldier's Tale' provides a link to the origins of the work. Soloist Alessandro Carbonare is a very skilled player and plays this showpiece (as well as the closing "devil's dance" in the "Soldat" viciously fast in this live recording. The "Suite" for clarinet, violin and piano by Milhaud also has clear roots in the jazz movement but is also very idiomatic Milhaud, whose style was not really a "style" and was wholly his own. The work echoes the composer's experiences in Latin America and alludes to both French folk song and his own jazz masterwork, 'The Creation of the World' Here, too, this recording is outstanding. I compare it very favorably to another recent one with clarinetist Jean-Marc Fessard. All performers on this recording are outstanding and the sound engineering is spectacular. This is (I think) my first recording on Concerto/Music Media and this bodes very well for their other offerings.