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Ernst KRENEK
Violin Concertos Op 29 & Op 140;
Double Concerto Op 124.
Peter Rosenberg (violin)/Gabriel Rosenberg (piano)/Bamberger Symphoniker/Florian Merz
Rcd: 1998, Konzerthalle, Bamberg]
Koch-Schwann 3-6408-2 [73 mins]


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Ernst Krenek (1900-1991) was a prolific, stylistic chameleon of a composer, who made 'good enemies' on all sides and remains hard to evaluate. This is a valuable collection of three concertos involving the violin, played with impressive assurance by Peter Rosenberg, who is joined by his brother Gabriel (they were a prize-winning duo) in the Double Concerto Op 124 of 1950, perhaps the most attractively accessible of the three.

The compact first concerto Op 29 (1924) [22'43] has affiliations with the neo-classical Stravinsky of the time, and its orchestration brings Hindemith to mind. The orchestra is small and the textures transparent. It is a piece of considerable originality, which rewards familiarity. Although Krenek is quoted as describing it as 'fairly straightforward as regards structure and form', it would have helped if Koch had encouraged 'EvH', the writer of the comprehensive and illuminating biographical and analytic liner notes, to provide timings for the numerous inter-related sub-sections. After three hearings, I find it still impossible to pinpoint the landmarks cited in the commentary, so frequent are the tempo changes. With certainty I can say that the extensive cadenza is from 15'35-18'50, and that there is no problem with the brief presto finale, 21'52, ending with bassoon and piccolo remain playing with the soloist, before he is left completely on his own to take his leave, at the highest register and without slackening the tempo.

The 33 min. Op 140 (1954) is in the traditional three movements, scored with a massive orchestra and incorporating thematic transformations between the movements. 'Colossal - - taut, fiery and bold', it is rated very highly by one commentator quoted, John Stewart, and 'EvH' believes that its Adagio 'reaches the stature of Berg's violin concerto, a great symphonic movement with its natural use of serial technique and feeling, expression, inspiration'.

Even easier to enjoy is the Double Concerto of 1950, seven short movements permeated by Austrian folk-dance rhythms, the last in Tempo di Landler. Performances, recording and, especially, balance are exemplary and this release is a welcome addition to an increasing Krenek discography and contribution to the composer's rehabilitation.

Peter Grahame Woolf

 

 


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