Weinberg: String Quartets, Vol. 1: Nos 4 & 16

COMPOSERS: Weinberg
LABELS: CPO
ALBUM TITLE: Weinberg
WORKS: String Quartets, Vol. 1: Nos 4 & 16
PERFORMER: Quatuor Danel
CATALOGUE NO: CPO 777 313-2 65:23 mins
The first volume in Quatuor Danel’s series of Miecysław Weinberg’s complete string quartets gets off to a particularly auspicious start with two finely contrasted works, neither of which has previously been available on CD. Although the underlying anxiety that characterises the Fourth Quartet of 1945 may suggest a similarly war-scarred landscape to that of Shostakovich’s Third, there is considerable evidence of Weinberg’s individuality in the narrative plan of the work, not least in the emotionally equivocal conclusion to the Finale. Dating from 1981, the 16th is dedicated to the memory of his sister Ester who perished during the German occupation of Warsaw. It’s cast in a more abrasive musical language, hinting at Jewish cantilation in the outer movements. Having previously recorded a highly praised Shostakovich cycle, it’s hardly surprising that the Quatuor Danel demonstrate such an instinctive understanding of Weinberg’s idiom, not to mention an impressive capacity to extract the maximum degree of tonal and dynamic variety from the music. With the added advantage of warmly balanced recording and authoritative booklet notes from David Fanning, this release warrants a strong recommendation.

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