Monday, April 10, 2006

Recovering the Music

I've just come back from York, North Yorkshire, where I was visiting Eva and Tony Fox-Gál, and listening to more of the remarkable and growing collection of recordings of compositions by the Austrian composer and musicologist Hans Gál (1890-1987). I was particularly struck by the new recording of the Serenade for clarinet, violin and piano Op. 93 by members of the Berganza Quartet - this hasn't yet been released on CD. It was also interesting to hear and discuss the constantly developing issues of how Gál's prodigious output of compositions can best be presented to a contemporary audience. While the focus on the suppressed music of the Nazi era reflects an important aspect of the work, care needs to be taken not to let this become too much emphasized, as it has a tendency to deflect attention from the intrinsic qualities of the music itself. None the less, the fine series of Wigmore Hall recordings - from the 2002 "Continental Britons" festival - which include a complete performance of Gál's First Violin Sonata of 1920, played by Konstantin Lifschitz and Nurit Pacht, gives an important guide to the background and context of Gál's development as a composer.

I also had a chance to listen to the new recording by the Edinburgh Quartet of Gál's String Quartets Nos. 1 and 4 - very achieved performances, given with great precision and intellectual warmth.

See also in this blog: Hans Gál
Music Behind Barbed Wire

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