Mieczyslaw WEINBERG(1919-1996) Weinberg Edition - vol.5 Three Palms, for soprano and string quartet, op.120 (1977)
Trio, for violin, viola and cello, op.48 (1950) [15:18]
Trumpet Concerto no.1 in B flat, op.94 (1967) [22:49]
Talia Or (soprano); EOS Quartett Wien; ad hoc trio: (Kana Matsui (violin), Johannes Flieder (viola), Christoph Stradner (cello)); Jürgen Ellensohn (trumpet); Vorarlberg Symphony Orchestra/Gérard Korsten
rec. Seestudio, Bregenz, Austria, 25 July 2010 (Three Palms); 8 August 2010 (Trio); Festspielhaus, Bregenz, 15 August 2010 (Concerto). Live recordings. DDD
NEOS 11129 [61:13]
This is the fifth volume in NEOS's 'Weinberg Retrospective',
recorded at the Bregenz Festival in 2010. The centrepiece of
the festival was the premiere staging of Weinberg's opera and
magnum opus Die Passagierin ('The Passenger'), but around two
dozen other works were also performed. Volumes 1 and 2 are reviewed
volume 3 here,
and the DVD recording of Die Passagierin here.
Coincidentally, Chandos recently released the fifth volume in
their own superb series, begun in 2003, of Weinberg's complete
symphonies - see review.
The compact String Trio makes an excellent entry point for newcomers
to Weinberg: its light Shostakovichian idiom should appeal to
almost all tastes. Matthias Corvin's suggestion in the notes
that Weinberg "succeeds in creating a fiery plea for artistic
freedom" seems to read more into the Trio than is there,
as is so often the case in Soviet-era musicology: it is more
folk-inflected and spirited than fiery.
There is considerable poignancy, indeed tragedy, reflected in
the sombre Three Palms, passionately sung by Talia Or. Lermontov's
eponymous poem is a harsh Biblical homily that tells of three
palm trees in the desert that complain to God about their futility,
who responds with typical Old Testament violence, having them
chopped down and used as firewood by Bedouins. It is surely
no coincidence that Weinberg lost three members of his family
- both parents and sister - in a similarly mindless way at a
Holocaust death camp. No surprise it was still on his mind more
than thirty years later. Despite its lyricism, the music oozes
pain and suffering, and ultimately desolation.
Weinberg's alternately witty and nervy Trumpet Concerto in B
flat is a hoot, particularly the ironic absurdities of the 'Fanfares'
finale. The Concerto does appear occasionally in European concert
halls, but nowhere near often enough - this is one of the most
memorable since Haydn. The booklet lists it as his Trumpet Concerto
no.1, which is certainly true, but he did not write a second
There are good performances throughout this programme, but soprano
Talia Or and trumpet Jürgen Ellensohn merit a special mention
for their contributions: Or for her heartfelt passion and Ellensohn
for his almost casual virtuosity and humour.
Sound recording is very good indeed: coughing and rustling has
been kept to an absolute minimum either by very thoughtfully
positioned microphones or benign audiences - one phlegmy splutter
near the beginning of Three Palms being the exception. 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.
Housed in an attractively designed digipak case, the CD booklet
is thick, although having everything in four languages means
that there is much less information than appears at first sight
- most notably, Lermontov's poem has not been included. Nevertheless,
the notes are illuminating, well written and well translated
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