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Format: Audio CD
Alfred Uhl (1909-1992) was an Austrian composer, violist, teacher and conductor who seems to have enjoyed a bit of success in his lifetime - clarinetists probably still remember him for his studies, but his representation in the catalogues of recorded music is otherwise scarce. As a composer Uhl drew on a variety of sources, from traditional tonal idioms and neo-classicism to serialism, but - though I must admit that I am not particularly familiar with his oeuvre - seems to have had a penchant for making the music accessible, humorous and witty yet sophisticated and inventive at the same time.
His cantata "Wer einsam ist, der hat es gut" for soloists, chorus and orchestra after poems by Busch, Morgenstern and Ringelnatz is certainly accessible and witty and inventive. Apparently it was composed (in 1960) as a light-hearted counterpart to his, it seems, highly successful oratorio Gilgamesh, and though I suppose it might be rather optimistic to hope for a recording of the latter, the present disc certainly makes one interested in exploring Uhl's output further. While not particularly original, the work at hand is utterly charming, catchy and inventive - like a slightly more academic (though not less inventive) version of Weill (though the association might, I admit, be a result of lack of familiarity with the tradition Uhl belongs to).
In any case, the cantata consists of a series of entertaining, sometimes exhilarating and sometimes moving, but always catchy, miniatures with tunes and rhythms often carefully crafted using the natural rhythm and pitch of the language of the poems. Despite the humorous, light nature of the various movements the cantata as a whole does not lack a deeper level either, and the experience as a whole is actually rather enriching. The performances are superb, with plenty of life, wit and spirit from soloists, chorus and orchestral players; the sound is clear and sharp and vivid, and the booklet notes informative. In short, I can heartily recommend this release and look forward to hearing more of Uhl's music.