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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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Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.

Norman Lebrecht

Norman Lebrecht is one of the most widely-read commentators on music, culture and cultural politics. He is a regular presenter on BBC Radio 3 and a contributor to the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Standpoint, Sinfini and other publications. His blog, Slipped Disc, is among the most widely read cultural sites online, breaking exclusive stories and campaigning against human abuse and acts of injustice in the cultural industries.
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Guide | A Musical Reading List For The Labour Day Weekend

By Robin Roger on September 4, 2020

Even for adults, the Labour Day Weekend has a “back to school” feeling, so we include a book about learning in this list in addition to others to offer some consolation for the onset of autumn.
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FEATURE | Azrieli Music Prizes: Meet The Three Winning Composers

By Caroline Rodgers on September 25, 2020

The Gala Concert of the biennial Azrieli Music Prizes will take place on October 22, featuring the Nouvel Ensemble Moderne, which will be performing the world premiere of the three prize-winning works in Montreal at the salle Claude-Champagne.
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LEBRECHT LISTENS | Leó Weiner Ought To Be On Every Conductor’s Encore List

By Norman Lebrecht on September 25, 2020

A poet of timelessness, Hungarian composer Leó Weiner ought to be on every conductor’s encore list.
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