Mieczys ław WEINBERG (1919-1996)
Weinberg Edition - vol.4
Cello Sonata no.2, op.63 (1959) [20:21]
*Piano Quintet, op.18 (1944) [46:43]
Christoph Stradner (cello); Luca Monti (piano); *EOS Quartett Wien (Willy Büchler (violin); Christian Blasl (violin); Roman Bernhart (viola); Andreas Pokorny (cello)); *Doris Adam (piano)
rec. live, Seestudio, Bregenz, Austria, 25 July 2010 (Quintet); 8 August 2010 (Sonata). DDD
NEOS 11128 [67:06]
This is the fourth volume in NEOS's 'Weinberg Retrospective', recorded at the Bregenz Festival in 2010 (see below for reviews of other releases in this series). The centrepiece of the festival was the premiere staging of Weinberg's opera and magnum opus Die Passagierin ('The Passenger') - see review of the DVD recording of Die Passagierin here.
The absurdity of Weinberg's neglect in Western Europe - something which growing discographies on Chandos, CPO, Naxos, Toccata and NEOS are only just beginning to correct, at least as far as domestic listening is concerned - is underlined by his Piano Quintet, surely as brilliant and memorable a work as any written in the genre. A recording of the Quintet appeared recently on Nimbus (review), and within the last decade, both on RCA Red Seal (review) and in a reissue of possibly the most authoritative account, given that Weinberg himself was pianist, on Melodiya (review). No one listening to the Quintet can be surprised at its wartime provenance, yet there are many pages of presumably ironic light-heartedness and military eupepsia to balance the returning air of gloom and introspection. It is virtually impossible not to be reminded of Shostakovich by Weinberg's music, but that influence is something Weinberg freely and proudly admitted, with Shostakovich's close friendship tending "unconsciously [to] inspire [my] compositional activity." Yet Weinberg's voice is as unique as that of Shostakovich.
The Cello Sonata is more melody-led, and a little more optimistic, perhaps reflecting the Khrushchev Thaw that had taken place after Stalin's death - something that led to Weinberg's release from prison, where he was being held on charges of "Jewish bourgeois nationalism", and which may even have saved his life.
Most of the performers here also appear on volume 5, and in both places are uniformly impressive, matching technique with expressiveness. Sound recording is very good indeed: coughing and rustling have been kept to a minimum, either by very thoughtfully positioned microphones or benign audiences. Applause has been skilfully edited out, the audience again being very helpful in not having cut into the short silence which rightly belongs at the end of all works of art music. There is one minor technical blemish, at least on the review disc: about ten-and-a-half minutes through the fourth movement of the Quintet, a minor blip that resembles an editing join.
Housed in an attractively designed digipak case, the CD booklet is thick. That said, having everything in four languages means that there is much less information than there appears to be at first sight. Two sides of biographies match Matthias Corvin's notes on the works. These are all, nevertheless, well written and well translated into English.
Collected reviews and contact at reviews.gramma.co.uk
As brilliant and memorable a work as any written in the genre.
Reviews of other releases in this series
Volumes 1 & 2