Ullmann: Symphonies No. 1 & 2
Brussels Philharmonic, Gerd Albrecht, direction
Viktor Ullmann (1898-1944)
The composer Viktor Ullmann (1898-1944) could not have predicted, fortunately, that his name would come to be inseparably linked to the Theresienstadt (Terezín) ghetto. Not only does his recollection of a particularly black page in western history continue to accompany his music, but the label "degenerate music" (Entartete Musik) is evoked time and again. In recent years, Ullmann's largely unknown body of work has once again attracted interest. His opera Der Kaiser von Atlantis has since been performed numerous times, and his other works are also making their way on to concert programmes. It seems odd at first that mention is made here of two symphonies. In the strict sense Ullmann did not write any symphonies. His notes on the 5th and 7th Piano Sonatas suggest, however, that he intended to transcribe these works for orchestra. After his horrible death, the composer and conductor Bernhard Wulff did that in his place. Gerd Albrecht brings a real understanding and commitment to compositions of Viktor Ullmann in directing the Brussels Philharmonic (previously called Flemish Radio Orchestra), providing us with an interpretation of music which is both fascinating in its own right and of the highest quality, whilst being the more poignant for being composed when Ullmann was being held captive in one of the most infamous concentration camps established during the course of the Second World War.