The Polish composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg
wrote 26 symphonies, 17 string quartets,
seven operas, twenty-six sonatas and
ten works for solo instrument and
orchestra. Taking various labels together
- and in recent years especially Chandos
- we now have quite a few of the symphonies
on disc though well less than half
the total number. Here is a selection
from his concertante works.
The three movement Fantasia for
Cello and Orchestra
took two years in the writing.
The first movement has the soloist musing in unpained
melancholia amid some utopian pastoral idyll. The second
movement dances and chuffs happily with some sarcasm
lightly added by the brass. The finale returns to the
warm sunshine of Palladian fields for a fleetingly short
epilogue recalling the mood of the first movement. It
seems never to have been performed in orchestral format
although Daniil Shafran premiered it in a version with
piano in 1953.
The Second Flute Concerto
with full orchestra and is dedicated to Alexander Korneyev.
The torture of the symphonies is completely absent with
the classical peace of the Fantasia
here. And yet there is also present a cool breeze and sometimes
a chill. Weinberg’s propensity for innocent song I associate
with the Nielsen Flute Concerto. As with the Fantasia
music is completely tonal-melodic. The piece ends in suave
and sunny contentment.
The First Flute Concerto
for flute and string orchestra. It dates from the same
years as the Violin Concerto and the revisions to the symphonies
3 and 4. It is also dedicated to Korneyev. The clouds descend
oppressively for the hesitant central movement where the
soloist’s line seems to proceed under a louring firmament
that threatens destruction at any moment. The voice of
Klezmer can be heard fleetingly in the finale as can, once
again, the Nielsen Flute Concerto. The final abrupt ending
is shriekingly brilliant.
The Clarinet Concerto
again in three movements. Here the mood is more circumscribed
than that of the Fantasia. Not exactly ascetic, the writing
is not exuberant. Although athletic material is there the
general character is similar yet again to the Nielsen of
the Flute Concerto rather than the strained and remote
distances of the Nielsen Clarinet Concerto. The finale
has the gamin and easy-going charm of Malcolm Arnold but
with added pepper from Shostakovich.
The finely supportive notes
are by David Fanning who is writing the study of the life
The present disc joins the
current Chandos-Weinberg-Chmura line-up of:-
Vol. 1: Symphony 5, Sinfonietta
Vol. 2: Symphony 4, Sinfonietta
Vol. 3: Symphonies 14, 16 CHAN
Add to this list the Melodiya
of Symphonies 4 and 6.
The present Chandos issue
is another disc to show that the music of Russia is a much
broader church than the image presented by Shostakovich
and Prokofiev. These works could in the broadest sense
be said to belong on the same shelf and sector as the Malcolm
Arnold concertos. They are concise, full of song and atmosphere
yet shot through with chilly shafts of Northern light.