Mieczysław WEINBERG (1919-1996)
Piano Trio, Op. 24 (1945) [28:53] Alexandre TANSMAN (1897-1986)
Trio for Piano, Violin and Cello (1938) [18:45] André TCHAIKOWSKY (1935-1982)
Trio notturno, Op. 6 (1978) [18:48]
rec. 2018, Concert Hall, Karol Szymanowski Academy, Katowice, Poland
World premiere recording (Tansman, Tchaikovsky) CD ACCORD ACD247-2 [66:36]
Here are three Polish composers. Weinberg and Tchaikowsky were born in Warsaw, Tansman in Łódź. What they have in common is that each left his homeland for pastures new, Moscow, London and Paris respectively.
Mieczysław Weinberg composed his Trio in 1945, and the backdrop of World War II looms large. At the time of writing, the fate of the composer’s parents at the hands of the Nazis was unknown; in fact, they perished in a concentration camp. In 1943, Weinberg had settled in Moscow with the help of Shostakovich, and the two become great friends. One can definitely hear echoes of the latter’s music in the Trio. The opener, dramatic and emotional, is followed by a vigorous Toccata of oppressive tenacity. Melancholy, interwoven with lyricism, perhaps gives some inkling of the composer’s state of mind at the time. The skilled contrapuntalist is at work in the finale, where all the elements from the previous movements seem to be drawn together – emotional intensity, fire, relentless rhythmic vigour and doleful expression all thrown into the mix.
Alexandre Tansman lived most of his life in France. A Polish Jew, he fled Europe for Los Angeles during the war, sensing danger from the Nazis; when hostilities ceased, he returned to Paris. His time in France exposed him to more modern influences than he could have received in the more conservative climate of Poland. His mentors and influences were Stravinsky and Ravel. The well-crafted four-movement Trio from 1938 is shot through with French neo-classicism. The first movement opens with a slow introduction, after which the pace quickens and becomes more animated; there is more than a hint of bitonality. Pizzicatos add sparkle and effervescence to the Scherzo. Then comes an Arioso, fervent yet quite lugubrious in tone. The final movement is zestful and spirited, and spiced up with more excursions into bitonality.
André Tchaikowsky lived in London from 1960 until his untimely death from colon cancer in 1982. His atonal Trio Notturno, penned in 1978, assumes the form of a diptych. It was premiered shortly after his death. The first movement is rhapsodic and tortuous, “a mosaic of contrasts”, as the booklet notes aptly describe it. The second movement is marked Andante tranquillo. Though it is first soft and subdued, Tchaikowsky turns the heat up midway. The narrative grows anxious and tense. The music gradually becomes more tranquil towards the end. The violin meanders in the upper reaches against bell-like piano figures and a mournful cello. The music literally dies away to nothing.
The Wajnberg Trio, formed in 2016, specialize in the music of Polish composers. This CD is their debut recording. They play with great enthusiasm, passion and fire, and one senses their honest commitment to the music. They have been well-recorded. I look forward eagerly to their future offerings.
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