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  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

 

 

Jacob WEINBERG (1879–1956)
Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Major (1944) [23:10]
(I. Maestoso; II. Vivace e marcato; III. Finale, Allegro)
Jorge Federico Osorio, piano
Barcelona Symphony/National Orchestra of Catalonia/Karl Anton Rickenbacher
String Quartet Op. 55 (1950) [21:42]
(Maestoso Allegro; Lento; Vivace)
Bingham String Quartet (Stephen Bingham, Sally-Ann Weeks, violins; Brenda Stewart, viola; James Halsey, cello)
Shabbat Ba’aretz (Sabbath in the Holy Land) (1934) [12:54]
Sabbath Morning Service, Op. 41 (excerpts): Bar'khu; V'ahavta; Sh'ma yisra’el (from the Torah service); L'kha adonai; Etz haayyim; Hal'luya
Patrick Mason, baritone; Christopher Bowers-Broadbent, organ
BBC Singers/Kenneth Kiesler
Rec. London and Barcelona, 1999-2001. DDD
The Milken Archive Of American Jewish Music
NAXOS AMERICAN CLASSICS 8.559457 [57:50]


Jacob Weinberg,
a native of the Ukraine, was brought up in a musically congenial and encouraging family. He studied at Moscow conservatory and later with Theodore Leschetizky in Vienna. He was a member of Moscow section of the Society for Jewish Folk Music - a pioneering organisation of Jewish composers, performers, folklorists, and other intellectuals who nurtured a new, authentic Jewish national art music in the early decades of the 20th century.

From 1921 to 1926 he spent time in Palestine where oriental, Jewish and Arabic musical idioms crossed his field of vision as did a burning Zionist conviction centred on aspirations for a new Jewish homeland. Weinberg went to the United States in 1926 where he was associated with prominent Jewish musicians. There he taught at Hunter College and the New York College of Music. Although his music includes a substantial amount of specifically Jewish pieces he also wrote various American flag-wavers.

Weinberg’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Major is a flamboyant late-romantic piano concerto. It follows the tracks of the Rachmaninov concertos and a contemporary work, Moeran’s Rhapsody No. 3. The Jewish ethnic influence is there but it is a gentle inflection - as at 8.39. The first movement ends in Technicolor brilliance while the second includes a fanciful and delicate little dance. In that sense it is not unlike Nights in the Gardens of Spain but with a Sephardic accent. The finale returns to Rachmaninov territory. The performance is completely committed and the only downside is that the strings sound a little undernourished. This will certainly appeal to followers of Hyperion’s Romantic Piano Concerto series. If you enjoy this Weinberg concerto you should also catch up with the Bortkiewicz concertos on Hyperion and the one by Issay Dobrowen on Simax.

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2002/Oct02/Arensky_Bortkiewicz.htm http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2005/May05/Dobrowen_PSC1246.htm

 

Weinberg’s String Quartet has a middle movement of considerable inwardness and two outer movements that are not merely ripely romantic but bursting with ardent intensity. The last movement has an abruptly declamatory tone which reminded me of Shostakovich.

The Shabbat Ba’aretz will appeal to anyone who enjoys the choral works of George Dyson. I could not take to the cantorial voice of Patrick Mason which wobbles alarmingly. On the other hand Mason infuses every word with conviction. As a spiritual experience I don’t doubt the intensity but in any other capacity a more securely-toned voice would have helped. The choral singing is unbridled and in tr10 L'kha adonai Weinberg seems to draw on the traditions of Walton and Hadley.

A typical conspectus this collection conveys diffuse variety yet succeeds for Weinberg through the romantic ardour of his concerto and quartet.

Rob Barnett

 

 



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