Top 12 great symphonies you probably haven't heard

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Kurt Weill

Symphony No 2 (1934)

Kurt Weill’s (1900-1950) thorny First Symphony was a product of his studies with Schoenberg, but soon after finishing it he began to collaborate with the playwright Bertholt Brecht. In the theatre, Weill brought a mordant jazz influence to his music, notably in The Threepenny Opera (1928). His Symphony No 2 was his final purely instrumental work. Written in Berlin and Paris as the Jewish composer fled the Nazis, it too reflects the world of the Berlin kabarett. The symphony’s three movements are infused with an almost sleazy melancholy, particularly the central Largo. Mahler lurks in its shadows, but he has been urbanised.  PS

Essential recording 

Weill: Symphony No 2; works
Goldschmidt & Gerhard
Kammersymphonie Berlin/
Jürgen Bruns

Some still prefer the rough-and-ready pit-band sound of Garry Bertini’s 1960 recording to the plush orchestras later led by De Waart, Jansons and Nézet-Séguin. Bruns’ chamber orchestra gives us the best of both worlds. 
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Top 12 great symphonies you probably haven't heard
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