Weinberg: String Quartets Nos 11 & 13; Piano Quintet, Op. 18

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COMPOSERS: Weinberg
LABELS: Delos
ALBUM TITLE: Weinberg
WORKS: String Quartets Nos 11 & 13; Piano Quintet, Op. 18
PERFORMER: Vilnius Quartet; Golda Vainberg-Tatz (piano)

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Just months ago I welcomed Quatuor Danel’s first volume of Weinberg, which presented CD premieres of two string quartets. Now here’s two more premieres, of the brittle and tautly structured 11th (1965/6) and the anguished one-movement 13th (1977). The Vilnius Quartet, recorded in a rather confined acoustic, deliver effective and technically assured performances of both works, but seem to operate within a more limited palette than Quatuor Danel. On the other hand, the inclusion of the Piano Quintet, generally acknowledged as one of the Weinberg’s most powerful compositions, adds to the attraction of this release. The recorded sound of this new version is streets ahead of the classic but boxy 1963 Melodiya recording featuring the composer with the Borodin Quartet. Yet despite the energetic contribution of pianist Golda Vainberg-Tatz, the older version is much tauter in ensemble and achieves a far greater dynamic thrust in the central Scherzo and the Finale. Erik Levi