Leone Sinigaglia (1868-1944)

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Berliner Philharmonie, Herbert-von-Karajan-Straße, Berlin

Under this season’s theme “Lost Generation”, Kirill Petrenko devotes this concert to three Jewish composers who suffered anti-Semitic persecution during the Nazi regime. (DCH)

An enticing concert of under-performed works opening with the Second Symphony of Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942) who was deported from his native Czechoslovakia by the occupying Nazis to a Bavarian jail where he died of tuberculosis. His Symphony No.2 is in four short movements and scored for a relatively small if colourful orchestra including timpani but no other percussion. The Symphony lasts a little short of twenty minutes: a jaunty opening movement with various woodwind flavourings, including an oleaginous bass clarinet; then an elegant if shadowy dance followed by something oriental-tinged and jazzy, muted trumpet to the fore, and including saxophone and banjo; the mercurial Finale has correspondences with Weill. Enjoyable music played with polish.

Then two pieces for violin and orchestra by Leone Sinigaglia, an Italian-Jewish composer (and mountaineer) whose music was conducted by Nikisch and Toscanini and played by Kreisler. Romance is a truly endearing opus – heartfelt and would pass for Max Bruch – beautifully and seductively played by Noah Bendix-Balgley, First Concertmaster of the Berliner Philharmoniker, https://noahbendixbalgley.com/, following which he brought virtuosity to Rapsodia piemontese (last given by the Berliners in 1907), a folksy and lively number, with poetic asides that were shaped with charm by Bendix-Balgley, before the fireworks of the conclusion. Notable discoveries, enthusiastically received, prompting a “Traditional Klezmer” encore from the violinist, richly and intensely sounded. This too is worth catching from Sinigaglia’s catalogue, http://www.colinscolumn.com/chicago-symphony-orchestra-on-tv-recorded-february-25-1962-walter-hendl-conducts-sinigaglias-le-baruffe-chiozzotte-frank-mille/

And then a shock! It was announced on-screen that due to unexplained last-minute legal reasons, DCH would be unable to broadcast Alexander Zemlinsky’s Lyric Symphony (1922-23), a conscious counterpart to Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde, settings of texts by Rabindranath Tagore in German translations, seven continuous movements for a large orchestra (including harp, celesta and harmonium) with, in this Berlin account, two wonderful singers: Lise Davidsen, http://www.colinscolumn.com/lise-davidsen-to-be-artist-in-residence-at-the-2023-bergen-international-festival/; http://www.colinscolumn.com/oslo-philharmonic-at-barbican-hall-klaus-makela-conducts-mahler-ten-adagio-sibelius-five-and-lise-davidsen-sings-bergs-seven-early-songs/, and Christian Gerhaher, http://www.colinscolumn.com/christian-gerhaher-and-heinz-holliger-record-othmar-schoecks-elegie-for-sony-classical/.

Whatever the legal reasons are – if unlikely to be related to Gerhaher’s court case in Germany regarding Covid; he is also a physician – the replacement music from a December 2012 concert when Kirill Petrenko was a guest – pieces by Rudi Stephan, http://www.colinscolumn.com/kirill-petrenko-and-the-berliner-philharmoniker-the-beginning-of-a-partnership-berliner-philharmoniker-cds-blu-ray-dvds/, and something ecstatic by Scriabin – really didn’t compensate despite DCH going to the trouble, for one was thinking more of the wonders probably being unfolded in the Philharmonie. Maybe filmed for a future broadcast?


Lyric Symphony

“Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra – prso.czechradio.eu

Dvořák hall, Rudolfinum, Prague – 14 June 2021

Alexander Liebreich – conductor; Johanna Winkel – soprano; Adam Plachetka – bass baritone”