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Mieczysław WEINBERG (WAJNBERG) (1919-1996)
Concerto No. 1 for Flute and String Orchestra, Op.75 (1961) [15.12]
Concerto No. 2 for Flute and String Orchestra, Op.148 bis (1987) [18.41]
Symphony No.7 for String Orchestra and Harpsichord, Op.81 [28.31]
Łukasz Długosz (flute)
Aleksandra Gajecka-Antosiewicz (harpsichord)
The Silesian Chamber Orchestra/Robert Kabara
rec. 2019, Karol Strya Concert Hall of the Henryk Mikolaj Górecki Silesian Philharmonic, Poland
DUX 1589 [62.45]

This is both fascinating and enjoyable, and a valuable addition to growing awareness of the remarkable – and highly attractive – musical imagination of Weinberg. Even if the release were valued only for the world premiere recording of the Concerto No 2 for flute, the justification for buying it would be clear enough; but there is so much more in the sensitive performances on display.

The longest work on the CD is the Symphony No.7, which has been recorded before, notably in 2010 by Thord Svedlund with the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra (Chandos CHSA5078), coupled with Symphony No 1, and very recently by Anna Duczmal-Mróz with the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra of Polish Radio (Dux 1631), coupled with Symphony No 2. The symphony is in five overwhelmingly slow movements (Adagio sostenuto, Allegro- Adagio sostenuto, Andante, Adagio sostenuto, Allegro-Adagio sostenuto). The treatment of the forces is unusual. The long final movement is at odds in many ways with the preceding ones. Though the harpsichord returns (it is absent from third and fourth movements), its expression is curiously and deliberately unexpressive, and the final two movements tend to have a fragmentary, somewhat uncertain and frequently dissonant character, while the first three are more lyrical. These qualities are captured well -there is a seriousness of purpose – with detail very well rendered. The performance of all movements is notably swifter than that by Anna Duczmal-Mróz, but lacks nothing in artistry. Anna Duczmal-Mróz pairs her recording with a very good recording of Symphony No 2, though many listeners, like me, might prefer Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, coupled with Symphony No. 21 (DG 4836566).

The two concertos for flute, both in the conventional three movements, are perhaps a touch more accessible, appealing and virtuosic, yielding their delights more readily. There are moments of darkness in both, but the overall mood is optimistic, even cheerful. In No 2 (an arrangement for string orchestra, from 1987), gentle passages are most affecting. Both concertos deserve a place in the concert hall repertoire to give them wider circulation.

Michael Wilkinson

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