Hans Gal Concertinos Seem Frozen in Time

Hans Gal was one of many promising young composers caught up in the turmoil of the Second World War. In the 1920s he was a rising star in German theater. And by 1930 Gal was on track to become one of Vienna’s best-known artists. 

The Nazi takeover of Austria ended all that. Gal had a Jewish background, and he was soon erased from the music scene. Fortunately, Gal escaped to Britain before his life was erased. 

Gal spent the rest of his life teaching at the University of Edinburgh. He continued to compose, but not evolve. Gal’s style was frozen in Viennese Post-Romanticism.

This release features three of his concertinos, plus his String Serenade. They show how powerfully expressive Gal’s music can be. Especially so if you don’t care whether it was au courant or not.

The Sinfonietta Riga has a rich, warm ensemble sound that seems well-suited to Gal’s style. And the soloists deliver time and again.

The album opens with Gal’s Concertino for Cello and String Orchestra, Op. 87 from 1965. Justus Grimm makes the work sound like an extended aria. His playing amplifies the lyricism inherent in the music. 

Oliver Trindl is no stranger to Gal’s music. His playing in the 1934 Piano Concerto is mordent and precise. And it can exude warmth when it needs to. 

Gal completed his Violin Concerto, Op. 53 shortly after arriving in the UK. Nina Karmon plays with a charming simplicity that draws the listener in.


Hans Gal: Concertinos for Violin, Cello, and Piano
Nina Karmon, violin; Justus Grimm, cello; Oliver Trindl, piano
Sinfoniette Riga; Normunds Šnē, conductor
Hanssler Classics HC23049

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