It’s difficult to believe that a composer brought up in the great European classical tradition could ever have laid claim to the statement, “I don’t give a damn about posterity”. But lay claim to this Kurt Weill did.
Fortunately for his music, and for us, more and more people are giving a damn about his all-encompassing musical genius following last year's centenary of his birth. Here is a man who began life in Germany when Brahms and Wagner were not just distant memories (Brahms died just three years before Weill’s birth in 1900) and learned his craft in the ferment of 1920s Berlin from respected composers.
He soon turned to writing music for radical, socially aware ballad operas before fleeing the country in 1933 as Hitler came to power, and spent the last 16 years of his life in America writing scores for musicals.
David Atherton's powerful new GMN CD release encompasses the earliest stirrings of Weill’s talent in the first symphony through the immediately recognisable spiky, witty, sardonic style of the Threepenny Opera and Bastille Music through to one of the forgotten masterpieces of the twentieth century, the second symphony.
This symphony straddles the years 1933-34 when the Nazis' rise to power forced Weill to flee Germany to France. There’s a lot of restless energy in this work, perhaps reflecting Weill’s state of mind at the time, but this is not the work of a man ready to lay down his tools in terror. Instead, shortly after its completion, he crossed the Atlantic Ocean, found some new tools with which to work, and continued producing musical masterpieces for posterity to remember him by – and posterity remembers him well – whether he gave a damn about it or not!
Listen to the Bastille Music - a WORLD PREMIERE RECORDING of this work by David Atherton and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra
Listen to Symphony No.2 with David Atherton and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra
|Weill Symphonies 1, 2 & Bastille Music