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Simon SARGON (b 1938)
Divertimento for Piano and Chamber Orchestra
Kurt WEILL (1900-1950)

Little Threepenny Music (1928-29)
Robert KURKA (1921-1957)

The Good Soldier Schweik Suite (1956)
David Karp (piano) with The Meadows Symphony Orchestra/Paul Phillips (Sargon)
The Meadows Wind Ensemble/Jack Delaney (Weill and Kurka)
Recorded in Caruth Auditorium, Southern Methodist University (2002?)
GASPARO GSCD 357 [61.26]


No complaints from me about the repertoire essayed by the Meadows forces – both wind and symphonic. The mix is potent – Weill’s established classic, a work that has long intrigued frustrated would-be listeners, namely the short-lived Kurka’s tribute to the Good Soldier, and a relatively new, unfortunately here undated [1994-LM], work by Simon Sargon. The performances are enthusiastic and accomplished and the recording attractive.

Sargon was born in 1938 and his Divertimento is a three-movement work of diverting generosity. The opening movement (Brightly – laid back is the indication and I’m sure Percy Grainger would have approved of the American demotic) is indeed bright and cocksure, with ebullience and a freshness that is immediately appealing. Sargon knows all about rhythmic insouciance and gives the first trumpeter a forceful and effective part to play. In the second movement one can sense the ghostly impression of Ravel’s Concerto in G but Sargon does grow active in the middle section, even if one can’t help shake off the ruminative patina of the influence, if influence it be. Pianist David Karp copes well with the romantic tracery of the finale (marked Driving) and Sargon gives the wind some effective lines as well – it all ends well and excitingly and I enjoyed the work.

Don’t expect to spend much time ruminating on Sargon because there’s a sliver of a four second gap before Weill’s Threepenny Music is unleashed. The balance is good – not always an easy matter in this work – and Polly’s Song goes especially well and tenderly. The pacing is fine and the performance musicianly and persuasive. Kurka’s suite from The Good Soldier Schweik is an invigorating and exciting one. There are some almost defiantly Stravinskian touches in the Overture and mordant sarcasm in the echt Schweikian March. The War Dance is jaunty and sardonic and the Pastorale has some jazzy wind writing well suited to the accomplished players of this ensemble and their perceptive conductor Jack Delaney. The brass blowsiness of the Finale well suits this outfit whose determined tattoos and defiant ending rounds off a really attractive disc.

Jonathan Woolf

Simon Sargon website

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