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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Leó Weiner's Five Divertimentos Are Pinpoint Perfect

By Norman Lebrecht on October 20, 2017

Leó Weiner: Five Divertimentos (Chandos)

★★★★ (out of five)

It was George Solti who first mentioned Weiner to me as his most sympathetic teacher in Budapest; an astute encourager of musical temperament. Solti returned to Weiner in what would be the last recording of his life, an affectionate account of the 1906 f-minor Serenade, perhaps Weiner’s trademark work though scarcely known beyond Hungarian borders.

This new account by Neeme Järvi and the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra is strikingly fresh and virtuosic — just wallow in that sumptuous third-movement clarinet — less relaxed than Solti’s and altogether more together. The rhythms might sound a shade more Czech than Magyar, but the playing is pinpoint perfect. You could tune your piano by these guys.

The five Divertimentos that make up the bulk of this release date from the 1930s to 1950s and, rooted in folk dances, are determinedly upbeat. You’d never know that Hitler and Stalin were banging at the door. A bagpipe wail in the fifth Divertimento weirdly anticipates Peter Maxwell Davies’s Orkney Wedding. Actually, Max would have loved this.

Leó Weiner: Five Divertimentos (Chandos) is available at amazon.ca.

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Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.
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