WORKS: String Quartets, Vol. 3: No. 6, Op. 35; No. 8, Op. 66, No. 15, Op. 124
PERFORMER: Quatuor Danel
CATALOGUE NO: CPO 777 393-2
Astonishing though it may seem, Mieczys√aw Weinberg’s Sixth Quartet had to wait over 60 years before receiving what is believed to have been its world premiere performance by the Quatuor Danel in January 2007.
Composed during the troubled post-war cultural climate of the Soviet Union in 1946, it fell victim to proscription by Joseph Stalin’s notorious cultural henchman Andrei Zhdanov two years later and thereafter was unfairly consigned
to the dustbin of history. Yet on the evidence of this extraordinary compelling and beautifully recorded performance, it’s an extremely powerful and deeply affecting work.
Conceived on an epic symphonic scale in six strongly defined movements, the Sixth encompasses a huge gamut of emotions from the almost brutal Shostakovichian violence and intensity of the middle of the opening Allegro semplice to the eerie disembodied sounds that appear at the end of the fifth movement. To my mind, this is one of the finest of the entire cycle brimming with distinctive musical ideas that have an immediate impact.
The other two quartets in the Quatuor Danel’s latest release are much more elusive, and perhaps should be experienced outside the orbit of the Sixth. Both have wonderful moments, especially the more elegiac Eighth. Outstandingly dedicated performances. Erik Levi