Joseph Weigl: Songs and Arias
Donald George, tenor; Lucy Mauro, piano
Few are aware that Joseph Weigl (1766-1846) was both an acclaimed conductor and a highly successful composer whose fame – in his day – rivaled that of Cherubini, Rossini, Haydn, and even Beethoven. The godson of Haydn (who encouraged his talent), Weigl became a master of two different styles, first gaining recognition as a composer of opera in the Italian manner. But, with the dawning of the 19th century, he became increasingly known for his German operas – mainly in the lighter “Singspiel” form – that influenced generations of Romantic-era German composers to come. All the while, he continued writing Italian opera for Milan’s La Scala and other venues to considerable acclaim. His attractive, lively and melodious music in both styles catered to his era’s more popular tastes. But his operas’ general lack of serious themes and musical drama failed to establish him as a “serious” composer, and his remarkable music – sadly – soon drifted into obscurity.
Tenor Donald George and pianist Lucy Mauro have lately made it their musical mission in life to merge their talents in support of music by neglected, yet deserving composers. Most recently, they have teamed up to record for Delos the music of two pioneering, yet unjustly forgotten female tunesmiths of the late Romantic period: the Boston-based Margaret Ruthven Lang and Vienna’s Mathilde von Kralik. Here, working in cooperation with a concert series sponsored by the Esterházy Estate in Eisenstadt (Weigl’s birthplace), they offer an enchanting mix of his Lieder and arias – with the bonus offering of several interpolated arias from other well-known composers of his day. Mr. George’s burnished tenor voice is in top form, and Ms. Mauro provides lively, sensitive and historically informed support from a sweet-sounding fortepiano.
- Charming, worthwhile, yet unjustly neglected music from an Austrian master whose reputation bears refurbishing
- A varied and well-chosen program of Lieder as well as opera arias in both Weigl’s Italian and German styles
- Vibrant, sensitive, and historically authentic performances (with fortepiano) from one of today’s leading vocal/keyboard duos