suffered the fated meted out to the
music of so many conductors who also
composed. Neglect dogs the progress
of their music the moment they die.
And what of his music?
There’s quite a bit of it. Amongst much
else there are seven symphonies, the
last being with solo voices and chorus.
The eight operas (1884-1920) tackle
the most gritty of subject matter from
Sakuntala to Genesius,
from Orestes (the complete trilogy)
to Kain und Abel and Dame
Kobbold. His final orchestral tone
poem was Frühling and his
final opera (still unperformed) is Der
Apostat. There are two violin sonatas
and five string quartets not to mention
a string sextet, an octet (scored for
the same resources as Schubert’s) and
a clarinet quintet..
The overture to Der
Sturm (Shakespeare’s Tempest)
is an amalgam of Berliozian poetic flyaway
delicacy and Lisztian Mephisto. There’s
also a boiling, not to say deafening,
whirl of sound; onomatopoeic in the
manner of Sibelius’s, Nystroem’s and
Britten’s storm pictures. That violence
takes on a heroic and optimistic character
at the end. The first movement of the
suite to the incidental music ends with
a section for solo organ in liturgical
mode. The spirits and faeries dance
jovially in the second movement. In
Prospero's Sieg the mage comes
over as a bit of a brutal bully-boy
thundering and bellicose.
The Serenade for
Strings is a compact four movement
work. It can be heard as a Germanic
echo of the Tchaikovsky Serenade though
it lacks the Russian composer's intoxicated
delight. Still it’s a gem of rediscovery
- neither too long nor too short.
The Fourth Symphony
was written in the midst of the
Great War. All the same Weingartner
stares determinedly towards the German
countryside. The first of the four movements
is dominated by a birdsong motif that
aspires to more Olympian heights. Amidst
this the shreds of a waltz obtrude.
This is no rustic waltz but one with
psychological fantasy - almost Ravel's
La Valse. There is a gracious
Andante con moto inflected by
Brahms' Third and by Korngold. The third
movement Comodo is hearty but
not stodgy - recalling the bucolic quietude
of Schubert's Great C major. The finale
starts with some Mahlerian bubbling
brass and a theme for the strings that
dances and sings in equal measure. At
times the music evokes a vision of children
and farm animals kneeling in a country
church bathed in morning light. The
first movement's birdsong motif returns
at the pinnacle to bring us full circle.
The orchestration has the weightiness
and density of Franz Schmidt without
his psychological dimension. This is
a symphony of rural grandeur.