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Concerto for Violin and Wind Orchestra, Op. 12a. Kleine Dreigroschenmusik. Berlin im Licht.
aHenri Raudales (violin); Munich Radio Orchestra/Gerd Müller-Lorenz.
Orfeo C539001A [50'42] [DDD]

Kurt Weill's Violin Concerto has fared fairly well in the catalogue. The newest soloist to take it on, the Guatemalan violinist Henri Raudales, is an able protagonist in this work, which pits the pungent neo-classical astringency of a wind orchestra against a seemingly out-numbered soloist. Written in 1924, the Violin Concerto lies historically alongside Stravinsky's Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments (1923/4), a useful reference point as both breathe similar air.

Müller-Lorenz fully realises that the orchestral textures must be clearly delineated and rhythms must be as tight as possible, and the Munich Radio Orchestra responds acutely to his direction. Against this frequently spikily rhythmic background, Raudales shows a clear affinity for Weill's longer melodic lines. Müller-Lorenz is able to show his sensitive side in the Serenata, which is superbly accompanied.

Choice of version for this piece may well depend upon coupling, as Daniel Hope gives a fine account on his Nimbus disc (with the English Chamber Orchestra under Boughton, NI5582 and interestingly coupled with Takemitsu's Nostalghia and works by Schnittke). Hope provides the main competition: Chantal Juillet on Decca 452 481-2 adds Korngold's Concerto and Krenek's First Concerto, but she is not the most characterful of musicians.

Of course, as this disc proves, there is plenty of contrast to be found within Weill's own output. The Kleine Dreigroschenmusik of four years later perfectly evokes the twilit world of the Berlin Cabaret. Again, the Munich Radio Orchestra appears to be in its element: the haunting saxophone of Tango-Ballade is expertly caught, as is the honky-tonk style piano of Die Ballade vom angenehmen Leben. Weill pulls out a final surprise by seemingly turning his wind orchestra into an enormous Bachian organ in the last movement. This performance would sit well alongside the 1975 London Sinfonietta/David Atherton version on DG 439 488-2.

Berlin im Licht was one of several pieces performed simultaneously during the 1928 Festival of that name. It is pure carnival music, and an ideal play-out to an absorbing disc. Recommended.

Colin Clarke



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