Weinberg

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COMPOSERS: Weinberg
LABELS: ECM
ALBUM TITLE: Weinberg: Symphony No. 10
WORKS: Sonata No. 3; Trio, Op. 48; Sonatina, Op. 46; Concertino, Op. 42; Symphony No. 10
PERFORMER: Gidon Kremer (violin), Daniil Grishin (viola), Giedre Dirvanauskaite (cello), Daniil Trifonov (piano); Kremerata Baltica
CATALOGUE NO: 481 0669

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The recent explosion of interest in the music of Mieczysaw Weinberg has resulted in a number of important recording projects. This latest release from Gidon Kremer and the Kremerata Baltica must be counted among the most enterprising. It opens with a stunning performance of the Third Sonata for unaccompanied violin, arguably the strongest work on the disc. Kremer describes it as a masterpiece that’s on a par with Bartók’s great Solo Sonata, and his comparison seems perfectly justified given the striking quality of the musical ideas, which, in their unbroken sequence lasting over 20 minutes, embrace a huge variety of emotions and textures.

Following that is a series of more modestly proportioned chamber works which were composed during the difficult final years of Stalinism in the late 1940s when Weinberg was faced with censure from the Stalinist authorities and felt compelled to write works that were closely allied to the principles of Socialist Realism. That explains the folk-inflected idiom of the String Trio, the Sonatina for Violin and Piano and the Violin Concertino. None of these works is quite top-drawer, but once again Kremer and his associates deliver incisive, committed performances.

The Tenth Symphony, composed for Rudolf Barshai and the Moscow Chamber Orchestra in 1968, is made of much sterner stuff and demonstrates Weinberg’s growing awareness of the music of Berg and that of his more radical younger Soviet contemporaries. There are some dazzling passages, including a surprisingly anarchic collage of different textures near the end. It’s a fascinating piece, performed here with great brilliance.

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Erik Levi