Weinberg: Symphony No. 3; The Golden Key Suite No. 4

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COMPOSERS: Weinberg
LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Symphony No. 3; The Golden Key Suite No. 4
PERFORMER: Gothenburg SO/Thord Svedlund
CATALOGUE NO: CHSA 5089 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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Weinberg’s Third Symphony was originally written between 1949 and 1950. A darkly troubled time in the Soviet Union, this period followed the widespread condemnation of the country’s leading composers by Stalin’s henchman Andrei Zhdanov for failing to write music that was sufficiently accessible to the masses. Taking heed of the changing cultural climate, Weinberg ensured that clear and memorable folk melodies would form the basis for his new work and that its overall mood would be positive, but these gestures proved insufficient to secure a performance until it was first heard in a revised version in 1960.

Such a background explains why the Third Symphony is not bedevilled with emotionally disturbing undercurrents. Quite simply it’s an immensely attractive work, the folk melodies with their distinctly Belorussian and Polish inflections skilfully woven into the symphonic fabric and clothed in imaginative orchestration. Perhaps the rather overblown finale doesn’t provide an entirely convincing conclusion to the Symphony but the atmospheric first movement and dynamic Scherzo are both extremely effective.

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With its sequence of boisterous Prokofiev-like dances, the fourth suite from the ballet The Golden Key, proves an ideal companion piece to the Third Symphony, and both works are projected with great energy and commitment by Thord Svedlund and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in this sumptuously recorded release. Erik Levi