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Ignatz Waghalter

String Quartet in D Major, Opus 3 (1901)
Nottorno for Violoncello and Piano Opus 4 (1902)
Sonata in F Minor for Violin and Piano, Opus 5 (1902)

Lillian Scheirich - First Violin, Velda Kelly - Second Violin,
James Greer - Viola, Nadine Deleury - Violoncello , Mary Sicilliano - Piano

DWG Music 101

This is a strange, broken-backed offering, which is hard to recommend universally, but not one to be completely ignored and dismissed.

Ignatz Waghalter (1881-1949) was an important opera conductor in Berlin, responsible for triumphant premieres there of Puccini's La Fanciulla del West and Manon Lescaut.

As a composer he was a "melodicist", able to convey profound emotional truth melodically, but this very quality made him "suspect, if not anachronistic in the midst of the atonal revolution that was sweeping German music".

To his credit, his integrity made him one of only a few prominent Jewish-born conductors of his day in Germany and Austria who rejected conversion to Christianity as a means of deflecting the continual pressure exerted by anti-Semitism.

The presentation of this recorded tribute is excellent, with a lovely cover photo and extensive notes - printed in good-sized black on white - which give us a fascinating social history of his enforced emigrations between Europe and USA.

The string quartet is delightful; one that would find favour in recitals here, in chamber music clubs, or in Wigmore Hall and the South Place Sunday Concerts. It displays an endearing melodic gift, reminding me at times of Dvorak's chamber music, but never too strenuous.

But there's the rub; the string quartet sounds to being played idiomatically as well as affectionately and the Nocturne has a pleasant tune that could make it serve as an encore. But the violin sonata, as recorded here, is forgettable. The duo settles for a leisurely, comfortable amble through its unremarkable pages; no energy to respond to its markings Allegro appassionato and Con brio.

There is an excellent website with sound samples you can listen to at http://www.waghalter.com/music.html if you click on "mp3".

© Peter Grahame Woolf