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Mieczyslaw WEINBERG (Moise VAINBERG) (1919-1996)
Symphonies - Volume 3
Symphony No. 16 Op. 131 (1981) [33.19]
Symphony No. 14 Op. 117 (1977) [30.15]
National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Katowice/Gabriel Chmura
rec. Grzegorz Fitelberg Concert Hall, Katowice, Poland, 30 January – 3 February 2006. DDD
CHANDOS CHAN10334 [63.42]
Experience Classicsonline

The Polish-Russian composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg wrote 26 symphonies, 17 string quartets (emerging as a complete cycle on CPO with the Danel Quartet), seven operas, twenty-six sonatas and ten works for solo instrument and orchestra. Quite a few of the symphonies have been recorded though well less than half the total number. With this disc we rejoin the current Chandos-Weinberg symphonies-Chmura programme begun with Volume 1 - Symphony 5, Sinfonietta 1 CHAN10128 - and Volume 2 - Symphony 4, Sinfonietta 2 CHAN10237.
After Weinberg’s works for solo instrument and orchestra on CHSA5064, it is instructive to return to the Symphonies. Volume 3 is the first to offer two symphonies - each of about half an hour. From 1977 and 1981 they seem riven, tortured, tormented even, by conflict. The vengeful and recurrent tolling of the Sixteeneth symphony recalls the equally torrid figuration that racks Grace Williams' Ballads - wonderfully recorded on Lyrita SRCD327. A mixture of panic and ruthlessness drives the yelping fourth section.  There is melancholic remission from this cauldron of tragedy in the remorseful exhaustion and skeletally exiguous final section of the work. This symphony receives its premiere recording here.
The Fourteenth Symphony is dedicated to Vladimir Fedoseyev who conducted the premiere in Moscow in 1980. It uses a large orchestra including six horns and is in four sections though laid out as a single continuous entity. An emotionally blanched introduction in which solo woodwind instruments sing mournful songs is followed by a sinister sequence in which woodwind capers and jigs as in some dark masque. The glum solo lines of the adagio lead us towards some woebegone miasma. This is dispelled by emphatic fanfare-whooping horns and  trumpets which might at times sound like a dissonant Janáček. This is all played with great attention to effect by the Polish Radio orchestra.
The notes are by Per Skans who also provided annotation for the Svtetlanov-Myaskovsky series on Olympia and then on Regis.
This is a further disc to demonstrate that the music of the Iron Curtain was a much broader church than the image presented by commentators unable to see past Shostakovich.
Rob Barnett


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