Karl WEIGL (1881-1949)
Cello Sonata (1923) [19:25]; Two Pieces (1940) [9:40]; 28 Variations on an Eight Bar Theme (1907) [8:19]; Minuet (1940) [5:17]
Johanna MÜLLER-HERMANN (1868-1941)
Cello Sonata (1912) [20:11]
Anton WEBERN (1883-1945)
Two Pieces (1899) [4:27]; Cello Sonata (1914) [1:36]; Three Little Pieces (1914?) [2:21]
Othmar Müller (cello); Leonore Aumaier (piano)
rec. 19-23 Oct 2000, Nimbus Concert Hall, Monmouth, England. DDD
CAMERATA CMCD-28245 [71:31]
Othmar Müller was born in 1963, studied in Vienna and the USA. He plays a 1573 cello by Andrea Amati loaned by the Austrian National Bank. Müller was a founding member of the Artis Quartet whose recordings of Weigl and Zemlinsky are to be found on the Nimbus label. I note that this Japanese release was actually recorded at the Wyastone Estate, the home of Nimbus. Müller’s honour roll includes the posthumous premiere of von Einem's Music for Cello Solo and the first performance of Herwig Reiter’s cello concerto. In 2006 he introduced Zemlinsky’s Three Pieces for cello and piano and the same composer’s Cello Sonata, a piece lost for 112 years. These two works appeared on Naxos in 2008. Though not represented on this disc Zemlinsky provides the adhesive coherence for this selection of works having been the teacher of all three composers. The Artis heartland is to be found in Vienna witness its discography which includes Franz Mittler’s quartet (ORF CD-2013777), quartets by Richard Dünser, Haimo Wisser, Ivan Eröd and Herbert Zipper (ORF CD 421) and Gottfried von Einem’s complete quartet cycle on Orfeo (C 098 101A and C 098 201A); not that there haven’t been diversions from the comfort zone: Wolf (Accord CD 149 183), Alberic Magnard (Accord CD 149 160) and Erno von Dohnanyi (Schwann/Musica Mundi LP-VMS 1054 and Koch/Schwann CD 3-1635-2). I digress.
The Karl Weigl Cello Sonata is broodingly romantic and recalls Rachmaninov in the first movement. The two composers’ cello sonatas would pair adroitly in concert though there is more of Brahms in Weigl’s pensive second movement, which shares a modicum of the mood of the first (Love Song) of the Two Pieces (1940), which was written after Weigl fled to the USA. Much the same can be said of the innocently smiling Minuet – also from circa 1940. The Variations are an early and turbulently Beethovenian work. Johanna Müller-Hermann’s Sonata also evinces a romantic leaning. Here the music also has a Delian-accented tremble and flutter. It would be good to hear her music for orchestra and chorus but until then if you enjoy the Delius Cello Sonata this would make an attractive discovery. The finale is particularly touching. You can also hear her impressive String Quartet on Nimbus alongside Zemlinsky Quartets 3 and 4 – the Artis again. Zemlinsky 1 and 2 are on another Nimbus. The same quartet also recorded Weigl quartets 1 and 5 and Wellesz 3, 4, 6. The Webern pieces might surprise many listeners. The style is again firmly melodic and romantic in the case of the Two Pieces: both marked Langsam. In the case of the Cello Sonata and the Three Little Pieces – all 1:36 of it - Webern has found his compositional voice or is en route towards it. Both date from 1914. The composer’s absorption in notes and fragments of music, in fracture and dissonance is well and truly in control. If you seek more of the uncharacteristically romantic Webern don’t miss out on his 1905 String Quartet on Nimbus NI5668 again played by the Artis. In a similar vein you should hear Alban Berg’s String Quartet op.3 coupled with Weigl’s String Quartet in A Major op.4 on Orfeo C 216 901.
An attractive and even provocative recital supported by liner-notes by the cellist.
Rob Barnett
An attractive and even provocative recital.