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Mieczyslaw WEINBERG (1919-1996)
Cello Concerto in C minor, Op.43 (1948) [29:31]
Violin Concerto in G minor, Op.67 (1959) [25:28]
Flute Concerto in D minor, Op.75 (1961) [13:56]
Leonid Kogan (violin)
Mstislav Rostropovich (cello)
Alexander Korneyev (flute)
USSR State Symphony Orchestra/Gennady Rozhdestvensky (op. 43)
Moscow State Philharmonic Society Symphony Orchestra/Kirill Kondrashin (op. 67)
Moscow Chamber Orchestra/Rudolf Barshai (op. 75)
rec. Moscow, 1961 (op. 67); 1964 (op. 43) and 1968 (op. 75)
MELODIYA MELCD1002315 [69:37]

The large number of discs devoted to Weinberg's music in the last decade or so has been one of the more rewarding features of repertoire expansion from labels big and small. The back catalogue also has its role to play, however, in providing LPs recorded during the composer's lifetime by admired instrumentalists who earned the dedication of the concertos enshrined in this particular disc. None of the recordings is particularly obscure. Of the three only Alexander Korneyev's triumphantly virtuosic traversal of the Flute Concerto may be in any way off the beaten track. Of the other soloists here - Kogan and Rostropovich - not much remains to be said.

Kogan's recording of the Violin Concerto shines brightly after over fifty years. Unlike the more famous Cello Concerto the violin strikes rapier hot from the first note, and Kogan's biting intensity allied to his immaculate technique ensures that any subsequent competitors have a desperately difficult mountain to climb to approach his patrician command. Certainly Ilya Grubert's Naxos recording (8.557194) withers in the heat, sounding pedestrian and desperately inert in comparison. No one in this work has played the cadenza as Kogan does, nor has his tonal purity, and no one has had the exalted accompaniment of Kondrashin. When Shostakovich admitted to his friend Isaac Glickman that he was 'very impressed by the concerto' he added that it had been very well played 'by the Communist violinist Kogan' - a none-too-subtle dig at the fiddle player.

The Cello Concerto is in the hands of Rostropovich and Rozhdestvensky and this is once again a reference recording, made in 1964 - at least it is for those not excessively troubled by questions of recorded sound. The soloist's beautiful and raptly lyric handling of the expressive opening movement announces a sense of total identification. Once again a contemporary recording, such as to be found on Northern Flowers fails to match this level of finesse and assurance. It would be wrong to overlook the Concerto for Flute and String Orchestra, in which Barshai accompanies Korneyev, in this small-scaled but energetically loquacious work. There's little rest for the scurrying flautist, whose fluid articulation of the dynamic solo part is consistently remarkable. So too are the long lyric lines he is given in the slow movement which, by direct contrast, affords him a comfortable opportunity to breathe freely in its transparent orchestration.

The notes are perfectly adequate and the remastering too is very acceptable. This is your 'historic' Weinberg Concerto disc.

Jonathan Woolf






 



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