Shostakovich¥Weinberg

COMPOSERS: Shostakovich,Weinberg
LABELS: Hanssler
ALBUM TITLE: Shostakovich,Weinberg
WORKS: Violin Sonatas Nos 3 & 4
PERFORMER: Kolja Blacher (violin), Jascha Nemtsov (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CD 93.190
Posterity has unfairly dubbed Mieczys?aw Weinberg an inferior imitator of Shostakovich. Yet here, finally we have a disc to allay such a suggestion. In fact not only do the Third and Fourth Violin Sonatas predate Shostakovich’s one essay in the genre by over 20 years, but they also feature strikingly original textural and harmonic elements which the older composer may well have borrowed for his own work.

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Composed in 1947, a year before the notorious Zhdanov condemnation of leading Soviet composers, Weinberg’s works reflect an unsettling landscape manifested most obviously in the central section of the one-movement Fourth Sonata, the violin’s fast and furious passage work fighting against brutal rhythmic patterns in the piano. No less troubling are the moments of inner contemplation, a particularly telling episode in the same work, highlighted by Jascha Nemtsow in his informative booklet notes, bearing an uncanny similarity to the last movement of Messaien’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps.

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Both Kolja Blacher and Jascha Nemstov are extremely persuasive advocates of the Weinberg, and their finely balanced recording makes one eager to hear them in the first two Sonatas. The Shostakovich is another matter and no match for the extraordinarily powerful and imaginative account from Leila Josefowicz and John Novacek on Warner Classics. In the opening movement, for example, Nemtsow sounds pedestrian in his delineation of line when compared to Novacek, and Josefowicz’s disembodied tone creates a far more chilling atmosphere than the rather literal sound of Kolja Blacher. Erik Levi