Irmina Trynkos / Alexander Walker / Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Ignatz Waghalter: Violin Concerto

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This release is part of a series from Polish-Greek violinist Irmina Trynkos devoted to neglected musicians of interwar Europe. German composer Ignatz Waghalter may fit the bill; he fled the Nazis in 1933 and later came to America, where he attempted to organize a symphony of African-American musicians. The major works on this program, however, were composed prior to World War I. In the booklet a secondary motivation emerges: to combat the "provocative, racist, and profoundly hateful" views of Wagner, who wanted to exclude Jews from German musical life and attempted to attach the question of innovation vs. respect for tradition to that effort. The notes go on to contrast the conservative music of Waghalter with his near contemporary Webern, who was not Jewish. This line of thought has some value but requires ignoring the contributions of Schoenberg, who even prior to his conversion to Lutheranism in 1898 was writing music far more modern than anything that appears here. Waghalter was a disciple of Brahms, whose music he seems to have gotten to know intimately through a circle of musicians surrounding the violinist Joseph Joachim. The Violin Concerto, composed in 1911, and Violin Sonata of 1902 sound much like Brahms in the slow movements and finales, and somewhat less so in the melodically inventive but rather diffuse opening movement of the concerto. However beautiful Trynkos and her accompanists play, it's sort of like Brahms without the structural ingenuity. The most attractive works on the album, in fact, are the shorter salon pieces, where Waghalter's melodic invention gets free rein. However vile Wagner's anti-Semitic vile may indeed have been, he was not responsible for Waghalter's obscurity; rather, it occurred because other composers had more to say about the world as it was in 1911.

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