Vainberg: Symphony No. 4; Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes; Sinfonietta No. 2

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LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Symphony No. 4; Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes; Sinfonietta No. 2
PERFORMER: Polish National RSO, Katowice/Gabriel Chmura
Any pre-existing notions that Mieczyslaw Vainberg’s music is merely a pale imitation of his mentor Shostakovich should surely be banished after listening to this stunning disc. True, the influence of the master is evident from the frenetic rhythmic activity and brittle instrumentation that grace the outer movements of the Fourth Symphony. But Vainberg’s thematic ideas remain distinctive, exploiting a very individual brand of lyricism in the haunting waltz idea of the Allegretto and the ensuing Andantino. This element of wistfulness is even more prevalent in the Second Sinfonietta – a work which seems to parallel the Symphony in generating a tremendous level of energy in its opening movement. Yet the sequence of four movements follows a more unexpected pattern, concluding in a poignant Andantino that manifests, as the excellent booklet notes suggest, a yearning retrospective of times past. Sandwiched between these first-rate works comes Vainberg’s 1949 Moldavian Rhapsody – a rip-roaring orchestral showpiece that should delight anyone who loves Kodály’s Dances of Galánta. Gabriel Chmura and the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra revel in the Rhapsody’s many opportunities for virtuosity, and they deliver vibrant and committed accounts of the Symphony and Sinfonietta. Add to this equation Chandos’s customary state-of-the-art engineering, and you have a release that deserves the widest possible dissemination. Erik Levi