One of the most grown-up review sites around

2020
54,196 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


 
Founder: Len Mullenger                                     Editor in Chief: John Quinn              

Some items
to consider

 

paid for
advertisements


Chopin Edition 17CDs
now available separately
£11 post-free anywhere


TROUBADISC

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount



Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage



Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


 

REVIEW
Plain text for smartphones & printers


Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

 

Recordings of the Month

October


Aho Symphony 5


Dowland - A Fancy


MÄNTYJÄRVI - Choral


Rachmaninov_ Babayan

September


Opera transcriptions & fantasias


TAKEMITSU MESSIAEN


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets


Schubert Symphony 9

August


Jean-Baptiste LEMOYNE


Enescu Ravel Britten


Debussy Images etc.


53 Studies on Chopin Études 1
Konstantin Scherbakov (piano)

 

 

 

 


Support us financially by purchasing this disc from


Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996)
Symphony no.19, op.142, The Bright May (1985) [34:04]
The Banners of Peace, op.143 (1985) [21:32]
St Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra/Vladimir Lande
rec. St Catherine Lutheran Church, St Petersburg, 28-30 April 2011. DDD
NAXOS 8.572752 [55:36]

The subtitle of this symphony Bright May would normally lead one to think that, being written by a Soviet composer, it alluded to 1 May and the workers’ holiday. In this case you would be wrong since it refers to the month the ‘Great Patriotic War’, (the Second World War to most of us) ended. In the first of three linked movements Weinberg describes the devastation left by the war with an overwhelmingly sad introduction. This finally gives way to a calm pastoral episode that continues until disturbed by an insistent and ominous theme heavy with foreboding. This mood finally returns to the pastoral calm. Merging almost seamlessly the second movement opens with a gentle theme that once again is disturbed by a threatening passage leading to a central climax during which percussion and brass dominate before peace returns once more. This leads us into the symphony’s final movement that, like the other two, is a sequence of calm interludes interrupted by ominous passages. The symphony finally ends on a positive note.

It has often been the case that composers horrified either by the looming threat of war or its unleashing, felt compelled to express this horror in music. However, it is unusual for a composer to take a war as a theme for, in Weinberg’s case, a set of three symphonies, so many years after its end. I wondered if the passage of time leads to a better historical view of it musically or whether memory is dulled over the decades. I can’t answer that as I’m not yet acquainted with symphonies 17 and 18 but I can say that this one certainly does express the joy that must have been felt when that terrible war, whose cost was so appalling, was finally over. The continuing disturbance of that joy expressed by the gentle pastoral sections, by the dark clouds of martial sounding passages and thunderous brass and percussion can surely mean only one thing; to emphasise that winning the peace would be as challenging as winning the war. After all, Stalin was still ruling Russia with all that implied.
 
Weinberg could never have been described as a ‘Party’ hack, though like many other Soviet composers, including Shostakovich, he did write some works that could be described as “socialist realist”. These were linked to aspects of Soviet policy. An example is Weinberg’s 1985 Symphonic Poem The Banners of Peace. This followed shortly after the 19th Symphony and was dedicated to the 27th Congress of the Soviet Communist Party. Apart from some references to revolutionary songs such as the Varshavianka the music is not overtly propagandist nor is it bombastic in any way; rather it could be construed as a critique. After all, the words of the Varshavianka, which is quoted throughout, include “We will drown our enemies in their own blood, Death to the ruthless, To all pests of the workers, Death to tsars and plutocrats!”. In 1985, over 80 years after the song’s first appearance, these words seem at odds with the concept of peace. I regard this work more as another example of Weinberg’s ability to make powerful statements and this in music that is expressive and exciting. Viewed as such this work forms another worthy addition to the increasing amount of his music available in recorded form. We should be grateful.
 
Both works are given committed performances full of colour from an orchestra that will surely have this music in their blood. It is conducted with verve and enthusiasm by Vladimir Lande.
 
Steve Arloff