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Felix WEINGARTNER (1863-1942)
Fruhling - Symphonic Poem op. 80 (1931) [18:49]
Symphony No. 6 La Tragica in B minor op. 74 (1928) [38:34] Sinfonieorchester Basel/Marko Letonja
rec. Casino Basel Musiksaal, 20-21 August 2006, 29 May-1 June 2007. DDD
CPO 777102-2 [57:30] 
Experience Classicsonline

With series of Holbrooke, Klemperer and Weingartner recordings steadily unfurling and new ones seemingly always ready to take the place of completed sets CPO are nothing if not firm of purpose.

Weingartner's Frühling is a rhapsodic flow of a piece. There's a a dash of Franck's Psyché here as well but Weingartner does not surrender to ecstasy quite so readily. There are also references to Mahler's woodland fanfares. There's birdsong along the way and several sections seem to have been influenced by hearing Delius's nature tone poems; I wonder if Weingartner conducted any of them. Germanic reserve holds things in check. This does not stop the work being rather transparently scored and having a lightness of step. It dates from the early years of his marriage to Roxo Betty who was Weingartner's fourth wife. She was at first the most diligent of helpmeets undertaking all the diurnal drudgery of the composer-conductor’s life. Gradually however she became obsessed with criticism of her predecessor. The marriage decayed and the ground was prepared for a fifth marriage with the dedicatee of Fruhling - Carmen Studer. 

The Sixth Symphony is in four movements. Despite its title its overall character is genial rather than tragic. This is not perhaps surprising given that it was written as a Schubert tribute in the widely celebrated centenary year. In fact the only movement with real stormy grit is the first which presumably is the anchor for the title. This is a nicely rounded, backwardly-looking, late-romantic symphony but craftsman qualities are to the fore rather than memorable sinew or clamant extremes of emotion. Not one of Weingartner's strongest works it is though fluently loquacious. This is a work worth hearing but unlike many CPO composer-conductor novelties such as the stunning Bruno Walter symphony in D minor on CPO 777162-2 this is not a Symphony that exercises a tight grip on the attention or the affections.

Rob Barnett

Other Weingartner symphonies on CPO reviewed on MusicWeb International:
Symphony 2
Symphony 4




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