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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

LEBRECHT LISTENS | Three More Reasons For Mieczyslaw Weinberg

By Norman Lebrecht on December 6, 2019

Lebrecht Listens Mieczyslaw Weinberg

Mieczyslaw Weinberg: Piano Quintet (Sony)

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Mieczyslaw Weinberg: Piano Quintet

The 2019 centenary of the composer’s birth has exhumed several dozen unknown works on record, enabling us to form a broader understanding of his preoccupations. The essential works in this present batch date from the Second World War. The piano quintet of 1944, fervently played by Olga Scheps and the Kuss Quartet, calls to mind Shostakovich’s stupendous quintet, dated 1940.  Of the two, the Russian composer sounds more Jewish than the Polish Jew, such was his alarm at genocidal antisemitism. Weinberg’s quintet, premiered by Emil Gilels and a Bolshoi quartet, is less emphatic, though also highly strung and with an unbearably tragic Largo movement. Although there are only 45 minutes on this Sony release, each minute is worth double. (★★★★☆)

Echoes of War: Piano Trios by Weinberg & Shostakovich (Genuin)

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Echoes of War: Piano Trios by Weinberg and Shostakovich

The 1945 piano trio, issued by Genuin with Shostakovich’s parallel 2nd  piano trio, is played intensely by the Marvin Trio, a young German ensemble. Some nuances get lost in translation but the loneliness of a Polish exile in Stalin’s Russia, awaiting dreaded news of his family, is fully conveyed, and the middle movements give vent to overwhelming, raw rage. (★★★☆☆)

Weinberg: Flute Concertos & Other Works

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Weinberg: Flute Concertos & Other Works

Naxos has done more than any label these past two decades to bring Weinberg to public attention.  Its latest releases are of quite late works — a pair of self-repeating chamber symphonies from 1987 and 1990 (★★☆☆☆) and two flute concertos from 1961 and 1987 (★★★☆☆). The soloist is Claudia Stein, principal flute of the Staatskapelle Berlin, and the conductor is another Barenboim pal, David Robert Coleman (Barenboim himself has shown no particular interest in Weinberg). The orchestra is from Szcecin, Poland.

Rather like Shostakovich in his three pairs of concertos, Weinberg has more to say in his sprightly first work than in the second. Stein’s playing is never less than appealing. Even more intriguing are 12 flute pieces that Weinberg wrote in 1947 and orchestrated four decades later. They show a major composer finding his voice just as Stalin is about to choke it off. Amazing music.

To read more from Norman Lebrecht, follow him on Slippedisc.com.

Norman Lebrecht’s new book Genius and Anxiety is available January 14, 2020. Pre-order here.

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Ludwig Van Toronto

2019 REWIND | The Best Classical Music And Theatre Shows Of 2019

By Ludwig Van on December 28, 2019

From Toronto Summer Music to The Tallis Scholars, Ludwig van Toronto critics reflect on our favourite concerts of 2019.
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FEATURE | Classical Horoscopes: The Signs As Composers

By Michela Comparey on January 4, 2020

Tchaikovsky was a sensitive Taurus, Hindemith a resourceful Scorpio. The signs of the astrological zodiac and the composers who fit the bill.
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SCRUTINY | A Journey Reimagined: Philippe Sly And Le Chimera Project In Winterreise

By Joseph So on January 19, 2020

Canadian bass-baritone Philippe Sly and The Chimera Project brought their re-envisioned take on the Schubert classic to RCM’s 21C Festival last evening at Koerner Hall.
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