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Weinberg: String Quartets Nos 5 & 6 etc

Silesian Quartet (CD Accord)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

String Quartets Nos 5 & 6; Improvisation and Romance
Silesian Quartet
CD Accord ACD298   61:40 mins


There is no obvious reason why the Silesian Quartet’s Weinberg cycle should have attracted less critical attention than the pioneering set from the Quatuor Danel on CPO or the ongoing survey by the Arcadia Quartet on Chandos. Certainly, the performances of all the Silesians’  releases that I have heard are uniformly excellent and musically insightful, as is also the case with this latest release.

Whereas the individual discs from the Danels and the Arcadias juxtapose early, middle and late-period quartets, the Silesians have opted to present these works in chronological order of composition – a strategy adopted in this final release in their cycle which brings together the two multi-movement quartets composed immediately after World War II, as well as the world-premiere recording of the unassuming Improvisation and Romance from 1950. This was a particularly fraught period in Soviet musical life when several composers were placed under severe scrutiny from the authorities for composing intellectually and stylistically challenging works. Not surprisingly, these quartets, with their widely divergent moods, ranging from introverted, melancholic slow movements to hysterical and violently abrasive Scherzos, met with a distinctly frosty reception. Indeed, the Sixth Quartet only received its first performance in 2007 many years after the composer’s death.

There’s powerful competition from the Arcadia Quartet in the Fifth, and from the eloquent Pacifica Quartet (on Cedille) in the Sixth. Nonetheless, the Silesians outshine their rivals in the daredevil breathless speed they adopt for the manic Scherzo in the Fifth, and achieve a greater sense of flow during the emotionally intense Adagio of the Sixth.


Erik Levi