Concertino Op.52 for violin and string orchestra

Composer: Hans Gal (b. 1890 - d. 1987)
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Composer: Hans Gal (b. 1890 - d. 1987)

Performance date: 04/07/2017

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Composition Year: 1939

Duration: 00:19:11

Recording Engineer: Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm

Instrumentation Category:Small Mixed Ensemble

Artists: Tamsin Waley-Cohen - [violin]
Peter Schuhmayer - [violin]

be born a Jew in Vienna in 1890 was a guarantee for a life of
turbulence and dislocation, generic anti-Semitism in Vienna, the
1914-18 War which destroyed the Austro-Hungarian Empire, post-war
inflation, Hitler’s access to power in 1933 followed by Anschluss
in 1938 and then a second world war. The miracle is that Hans Gál
survived, but his reputation as a composer never recovered from its
peak when he was Director of Mainz Conservatoire 1929-33.

Gál is almost unknown today but between the Wars he was a major
figure as a highly successful opera composer and the editor of the
complete works of Brahms with Eusebius Mandyczewski, Brahms’
musical executor. With this pedigree, Gál was unlikely to be an
Hindemith or Schulhoff but he was far from being derivative and took
the view that modern music should grow organically out of the
nineteenth century. He was at the centre of musical life in Germany,
his works were conducted by luminaries like Fritz Busch, Fürtwangler,
Keilbert, Szell and Weingartner.

lost his Directorship at Mainz as soon as Hitler took power and
despite invitations from USA he moved back to Vienna, but they had
the sense to prepare for the worst – his wife qualified as a speech
therapist and insisted they both learn English to prepare for life as
a refugee. Even so escape to England was not straightforward and
then, as now, refugees got a poor welcome. And once the War began,
worse was to come as Gál and many of his Jewish colleagues, all
passionately anti-Hitler, were interned as enemy aliens.

written in London in 1939, after his escape from Vienna and before he
was picked up as an enemy alien. Gál clearly did not believe in
writing music as a sounding board for the chaos outside but rather as
a place of refuge and an affirmation of transcendent values, values
that for him were rooted in the great musical tradition in which he
remained rooted, values which Hitler could not take away from him.

only two movements linked by an extensive cadenza. It is technically
highly concentrated with the transparent texture of chamber music,
making considerable demands on both soloist and players. The opening
melody, introduced by the cellos is serene with an elegiac beauty,
becoming almost ethereal when taken up by the soloist. There is a
continuous thematic progression and development through contrasting
episodes bringing complete changes of key, pulse and mood.

The cadenza leads
without a break into the
whose tune Gál had spotted in a manuscript on display at the British
Museum.This is a cheerful dance-tune, full of vitality, that
progressively gains in depth, complexity and sheer virtuosity as the
composer plays with his material, which includes a reflective second
subject, again introduced by the cellos. Eventually the soloist
brings us back to the opening theme from the first movement, leading
straight into the cadenza and a final recapitulation and a bravura