In terms of style, with his works linked to basic tonalities Weigl drew on the sound realm of late Romanticism, from whose aesthetics he never departed in favour of more progressive contemporary trends. Whereas Weigl’s Symphony No. 1, written in 1908, associatively evokes the mood of a composer thinking of new territory and inquiring into the future, the dissimilar pair of his Symphonies Nos. 4 and 6 shows the musician’s intellect at historically distinctive periods, allowing an assessment to be made as to whether what could be expected, intended and hoped for at the time of his early works was achieved or whether it developed in an entirely different manner. The background to Symphony No. 4 in 1936 was the emergence of dictatorialRead more Austro-Fascism. Symphony No. 6 of 1947 is in a certain sense a continuation and a conclusion following the end of the Nazi terror and a war that did not remain without profound changes and far-reaching effects for almost all the countries in the world.
Symphony No.4 was never played in Weigl’s lifetime—this recording is its first performance anywhere. The opening suggests that it occupies a post-Webern world but it quickly settles into a more conservative style. There are traces of Strauss in the approach to orchestration and the working out of themes. Across the three movements there are suggestions of the jolly and carefree, but jagged interventions suggest the influence of the dark times of 1936. The three movements tell of technical accomplishment and a fine ear for the capacities of the modern symphony orchestra. The question for the listener is how distinctive the composer’s voice is in cutting through the range of influences. There are passages in the first movement reminiscent of the use of woodwinds in the finale of Bruckner’s 5th Symphony, elsewhere hints of Mahler and Zemlinsky. The scherzo of the second movement, with its twittering woodwind, is perhaps more distinctive: orchestration is masterfully handled. The final adagio has distinctive features, including some ‘big tunes’, moments of relative serenity, others quite joyful. The conclusion is striking indeed as the orchestra build to a conclusion. Some sections are Mahlerian in the changes from full orchestra to a few exposed instruments, and emotions range from the slightly melancholic, through patches of serenity, to a gentle and dignified conclusion. Well worth hearing.
Symphony No.6 is a post-war piece, not autobiographical in intent, in late Romantic language. Hints of both Strauss and Bruckner are present. The opening Andante mosso has moments of eloquent yearning but also hints of gloom. In parts it seemed to me to meander, but it has distinct merits as themes become more emphatic. The second movement is marked Allegro, and is distinctly Straussian, by turns quite playful, a little melancholy, lyrical and finally hectic. Essentially a Scherzo, it is attractive and continually interesting. The Adagio—here placed third of four—has the character of a song without words. The drama is restrained, the effects quite subtle; the overall effect is very lyrical, but not perhaps distinctive, for all its lovely moments. The finale is fairly conventional, beginning with a trumpet signal, before extended conflicted passages. Pace gradually picks up leading to a more optimistic if still ambiguous conclusion.