Mieczyslaw WEINBERG (1919-1966)
Symphony No. 1 in G minor Op. 10 (1942) [39:35]
Symphony No. 7 in C major for harpsichord and string orchestra Op. 81 (1964) [29:33]
Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra/Thord Svedlund
Erik Risberg (harpsichord) (7)
rec. Concert Hall, Gothenburg, Sweden, 20-21 August 2008 (1), 24-25 August 2009 (7). DDD
CHANDOS CHSA5078 [69:23]

The Chandos Weinberg orchestral series moved from Katowice and Chmura to Gothenburg and Svedlund. The latter is a very suitable choice having made several recordings of Weinberg for Olympia.

The Chandos series currently encompasses:-
Vol. 1: Symphony 5, Sinfonietta 1 CHAN 10128
Vol. 2: Symphony 4, Sinfonietta 2 CHAN 10237
Vol. 3: Symphonies 14, 16 CHAN 10334 (not reviewed as yet)
Concertos (clarinet, flute 1 and 2, cello) CHSA 5064

Add to this list the Melodiya disc of Symphonies 4 and 6.

The First Symphony reflects a fascinating piece of history. The dedication is to the Red Army - hardly astonishing given the date. The hard-bitten, epic-cinematic style of the first movement is redolent of Boris Tchaikovsky's First Symphony (1947) and the heroic war symphonies of Shostakovich. There is also a strong stylistic overlay from Prokofiev (Romeo and Juliet) heavily evident in the first two movements. Shostakovich approved of the symphony and his blessing was the key to Weinberg being able to live in Moscow. After a chortling and gurglingly high-spirited scherzo comes a triumphant finale with elements of fugal play, of Shostakovich 5 and of the sort of updated imperial sport to be heard in Glazunov's Eighth Symphony. The sound has a strong image and well defined gradation of dynamics.  

Fast forward twenty two years to the Seventh Symphony. This radiates a different atmosphere - finer, delicate, melancholia-afflicted, with a modicum of tension. The harpsichord touches in fine points around high quietly coursing violins. There’s delicately dancing terpsichore, pensive music, lightly poignant and exploratory. In the third movement the approach is corrosive and scalpel keen. The finale is an unusual vision with the harpsichord making a Ulysses-style return chiming like a mandolin - echoes of Romeo and Juliet again. The strings groan, textures rattle col legno, solo violins dance in Mephisto macabre jigs. This all awakes memories of Schnittke and of the strange otherworldliness of the finale of Shostakovich's much later Fifteenth Symphony - at that time lying in the future.

David Fanning has the gift of writing communicably for general audiences. His liner-notes do more than set the scene.

Be intrigued by this disc. It opens the vista onto an otherwise closed world. Will Chandos, I wonder, begin to record the symphonies of Lev Revutsky, Lev Knipper and Maximilian Steinburg. I hope so though meantime there are other Weinberg symphonies yet to be recorded - he wrote 27 in all.

Chandos do it again and in princely style.

Rob Barnett