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Weinberg: Cello Concertino etc

Jean-Michel Charlier (clarinet), Pieter Wispelwey (cello); Les Métamorphoses/Raphaël Feye (Evil Penguin)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Cello Concertino; Fantasy for Cello and Orchestra; Chamber Symphony No. 4
Jean-Michel Charlier (clarinet), Pieter Wispelwey (cello); Les Métamorphoses/Raphaël Feye
Evil Penguin EPRC 0045   67:01 mins


The manuscript for Weinberg’s Cello Concertino was discovered relatively recently, the composer not even listing it among his completed works. One reason for this might be that this work, which was written in a matter of days in 1948 during one of the darkest periods in the composer’s life, is in essence a slimmed-down version of the later Cello Concerto featuring four movements that share almost identical thematic material. Yet the more intimate accompaniment of a string orchestra in the Concertino not only suits Weinberg’s strong vein of melancholy, most obviously manifested in the unforgettably moving lament that opens and closes the work, but also works most effectively in the energetic Polish folk dance and klezmer-inflected material of the central movements.

Pieter Wispelwey inflects the solo cello part with tremendous artistry, sculpting Weinberg’s melodic lines with a wonderful sense of colour and imagination yet without succumbing to indulgent emotion even in the most heart-rending passages. The Belgian ensemble Les Métamorphoses under Raphaël Feye are admirably responsive partners both in this work and in the Fantasy, another attractive work in which Wispelwey mesmerises the listener with his charismatic shaping of the hauntingly mysterious waltz in the slow sections and the rumbustious dance rhythms of the central Allegro.

Feye and Les Métamorphoses then take up the reins to deliver a compelling account of the emotionally inscrutable Fourth Chamber Symphony, impressively sustaining the tension throughout the quiet shadowy chorale textures and solo instrumental soliloquies that are so predominant in this late work. A word of praise too for the recording which captures these fine performances in stunningly vivid sound.

Erik Levi

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