WORKS: String Quartets, Vol. 4: Nos 5, 9 & 14
PERFORMER: Quatuor Danel
CATALOGUE NO: CPO 777 394-2
Following the pattern of the previous disc in their complete Weinberg cycle the Quatour Danel here feature three quartets that effectively span the composer’s career. First there’s the accessible, relatively straightforward Fifth, composed in 1945 at a time when Weinberg poured much of his creative energies into chamber music.
Crafted in five movements, each bearing generic titles such as ‘Melodia’, ‘Humoresque’, ‘Improvisation’ and ‘Serenata’, it effects a rather melancholic and contemplative character that is only briefly disturbed by its fast and furiously intense Scherzo.
Similarly elegiac elements are very much to the fore in the slow movement of the Ninth, but in the first movement Weinberg eschews lyricism and projects an almost relentless density of sound. This marks a sharp contrast with the ensuing ghostly waltz which casts a disturbing shadow over the rest of the work. Indeed the brief F sharp major chord at the end of the Finale sounds strangely inconclusive.
The 14th Quartet from 1978, divided into five unbroken sections with specific metronome marks rather than tempo directions, uses a less complex harmonic idiom than the 15th (featured in Vol. 3, reviewed last March), but is dominated by long impassioned monologues for solo instruments and by a seeming inability to achieve resolution between passages of violence and those of a more consoling nature.
None of these works strike me as being quite as compelling or memorable as the Sixth featured in Vol. 3, but committed playing makes this release worthwhile. Erik Levi