These days, Weingartner is better known as a conductor, the first
to record a complete Beethoven symphony cycle, and the première interpreter of Bizet’s Symphony
in C. Like Mahler, who was three years his senior - Weingartner
was born in 1863 not 1893 as stated on the rear inlay – the correct
date is given in the booklet - he wished to be seen as a composer
who conducted. He studied with Swilhelm Meyer, who also taught Ferruccio Busoni, and
with Liszt in Weimar. CPO has already recorded five volumes of
Weingartner’s orchestral music and one of chamber works.
The 1st Quartet is classical in feel, layout and
outlook. The opening movement, a long Allegro moderato,
is very Schubertian, even down to a recurring upward thrusting
phrase which could have come directly from the Tod und das
Mädchen Quartet. The second movement, although
marked Adagio assai, contains scherzo episodes of almost
Mendelssohnian lightness. The scherzo is a short, but heavy-handed
dance and the finale returns to that land
of Schubertian influence. Despite all this talk
of classicism and Schubert the music is thickly textured and
in a very rich late romantic vein. Oddly, I don’t find it emotional,
nor does it engage me, but I know that it’s a well wrought piece
and I shall revisit it for further study.
The little (to quote from the booklet) 3rd Quartet
is a more assured work. True, there’s still a lot of Schubert
in it but there is also the feeling of an original voice at
work. The first movement is dramatic and forthright, with a
couple of good tunes and a satisfactory working out of the material.
The middle of the three movements is a lightning scherzo, which
displays even more of the composer’s own voice. The final movement
starts with a very serious slow introduction – the only true
slow music in the whole piece – which bursts into an energetic
allegro giocoso. From a compositional point of view this
is a big step for the composer from the 1st Quartet.
It’s very well written, the textures not as thick as earlier,
making for more transparency in the sound, and it’s quite enjoyable.
However, as with the earlier work, the music, for all its charm,
failed to involve me.
The performances are as committed as one could hope for, and the recording,
which places the players very far forward, although very bright
leaves no space for a feeling of the room in which they were recorded.
This is an interesting disk, to be sure, but be warned, Weingartner
was no Mahler.
see also Review
by Jens Laurson