WILHELM GEORG BERGER (1929-1993): Symphony No. 4, Op. 30, Viola Concerto, Op. 12.
Catalogue Number: 06O009
Reference: 777 756-2
Description: Some of you out there are aware that there were some incredibly prolific Romanian symphonists out there in the 20th century. Berger, a Transylvanian of German ancestry, is one; he wrote 24 of them. The generally inadequate notes tell us nothing about his teachers but he claimed Hindemith, Reger and Schoenberg as his musical models - none of whom you'll hear here (unless you count the length and somewhat dense orchestration of the symphony as "Regerian"). For instance, in the three-movement, 29-minute concerto of 1959, there is a lyricism throughout markedly at variance with the sounds of the times, even behind the Iron Curtain (not counting slavish Social Realism which Berger has no truck with, at least here); there are passages in this work which sound like they're by an English composer of the 1930s and, in the finale, suggestions of, presumably, Romanian folk music. The bigger symphony of 1964 (43 minutes in just two movements) suggests a more expected model: Shostakovich. Its flow is consistent, ranging from moderate anxiety (with one Shostakovichian "Alarum!" in the middle of the final movement) to deep brooding, its mood dark and, well, tragic. No indication in the notes about why this might be so for a work written in 1964 but, well, there you are. There's got to be a potential Romanian note-writer somewhere in his 60s or 70s who knows a lot more about this composer... Nils Mönkemeyer (viola), Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra; Horia Andreescu.