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Weill: Zaubernacht / Ania Vegry, Arte Ensemble

Weill / Arte Ensemble
Release Date: 04/30/2013 
Label:  Cpo   Catalog #: 777767  
Composer:  Kurt Weill
Performer:  Ania Vegry
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arte Ensemble
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

WEILL Zaubernacht Arte Ens; Ania Vegry (sop) CPO 7777672 (58:47)

Weill was 22, and one of five pupils admitted to Busoni’s master class under the auspices of the Prussian Academy of Arts, when he accepted his first commission, to provide music for a children’s pantomime, Zaubernacht . The scenario, woven around magic and enchantment (which Busoni considered the proper sphere of musical theater) drew from Weill an abundant and melodically generous response, whose 24 Read more numbers strut an astounding compositional resourcefulness fraught with naiveté, charm, mystery, rumbustious high spirits, and infinite cunning. The surefire tunes, the “hit” numbers, of Die Dreigroschenoper and Happy End , though lurking just over the horizon, are in abeyance, and would, in any case, have been inappropriate for Zaubernacht —with one exception. During the winter of 1920–21, when Weill came to Berlin to begin his studies with Busoni, he jotted a suave foxtrot introducing a vocal send-up of an ad for Algi, a popular toiletry. Thanks to research and performance panache by the incomparable H. K. Gruber, with the Ensemble Modern, the Slow Fox and Algi-Song , with its insidiously memorable refrain, were drawn from obscurity to droll life in 1990 on the indispensable Largo 5114, which featured a number of other Weill rarities. The Algi-Song ’s theme, with its ingratiating lilt, becomes a central motif in Zaubernacht , appearing in several beguiling guises. If Zaubernacht has not joined the Weill canon, it’s owing to its survival as a not quite complete piano score.

Prefacing the album’s booklet essay, a note puts the matter succinctly: “The present compact disc is the recording premiere of Kurt Weill’s Zaubernacht . The only previous recording of the work (released as a compact disc in 2002) used British arranger Meirion Bowen’s reconstruction of the score from a surviving piano sketch. In 2006 Weill’s original instrumentation unexpectedly resurfaced.” Notes by Elmar Juchem, who identified Weill’s newly discovered manuscript and saw it through the press, tell a gripping story which we’ll leave for your delectation, for, without a doubt, if you’ve read thus far you’ll want this. Weill aficionados who picked up the Bowen arrangement, with Celso Antunes leading the Ensemble Contrasts Köln (Capriccio 67011), can now make the particularly invidious comparisons this echt Weill production allows, marking the great gulf fixed between informed expertise and genius. Bowen’s arrangement, for which we once were grateful, fades into dull, would-be clever opacity in the radiance of Weill’s scintillant—often coruscating—aural sorcery. Nor is Weill’s instrumentation a series of clever audacities—though surprises and audacities abound—but looms as the inevitable realization of the musical material, which discloses an expressive piquancy rarely suggested chez Bowen. Thus, CPO’s curt assertion that this is the work’s “recording premiere” is entirely accurate, for one simply has not heard Zaubernacht until one has heard this. Where Antunes & the Contrasts band often seemed reticent or generic, the Arte Ensemble spirits up the music with compelling pizzazz. In the Fairy’s Song, the single vocal, after Ania Vegry’s bright, enticing soprano, Ingrid Schmithüsen’s for Antunes seems hooty and distressing. CPO’s aural spin is upfront, gutsy, and sparklingly detailed. Highest recommendation.

FANFARE: Adrian Corleonis Read less

Works on This Recording

Zaubernacht by Kurt Weill
Performer:  Ania Vegry (Soprano)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Arte Ensemble
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1922; Germany 

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