Mieczysław Weinberg

Kremerata Baltica, Gidon Kremer


The music of Mieczysław Weinberg is finally beginning to get the hearing it has long deserved. Weinberg’s lifetime spanned the 20th century: born 1919 in Warsaw, he died 1996 in Moscow, in semi-obscurity. Along the way, his allies and supporters had included Dmitri Shostakovich, who considered him one of the great composers of the age. This double album with the Kremerata Baltica, recorded in Neuhardenberg and Lockenhaus, makes a good case for that claim. Effectively a portrait album, it begins with Weinberg’s extraordinary Violin Sonata No. 3, brilliantly performed by Gidon Kremer, and proceeds from chamber music works (the Sonatina op. 46, the Trio op. 48) to strikingly-contrasting compositions for string orchestra, the graceful Concertino op. 42 inspired by the late-romantic idiom, and the adventurous Symphony no 10, bringing12-tone rows and chordal structure into unexpected juxtapositions.

Das Werk des Komponisten Mieczyslaw Weinberg beginnt endlich die Aufmerksamkeit zu finden, die es schon lange verdient. Weinbergs Lebenszeit umfasst den größten Teil des 20. Jahrhunderts. 1919 in Warschau geboren, starb er 1996 beinah in Vergessenheit geraten in Moskau.
Zu seinen Lebzeiten hatte nicht zuletzt Dmitri Schostakowitsch, der ihn als einen der großen Komponisten seiner Epoche ansah, zu seinen Wegbegleitern und Unterstützern gezählt. Das vorliegende Doppelalbum mit der Kremerata Baltica, aufgenommen in Neuhardenberg und Lockenhaus, ist ein beredtes Plädoyer für Schostakowitschs Einschätzung: Im Grunde eine Art Porträtalbum, beginnt es mit Weinbergs komplexer Sonate für Violine solo Nr.3, von Gidon Kremer meisterlich vorgetragen, und schreitet über kammermusikalische Werke (die Sonatine op. 46, das Trio op. 48) fort zu verblüffend gegensätzlichen Kompositionen für Orchester: das graziöse, von der Spätromantik inspirierte Concertino op. 42 und die avancierte 10. Symphonie, die 12-Ton-Reihen und Akkordstrukturen auf überraschende Weise verbindet.
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  • CD 1
  • 1Sonate Nr. 3 op. 126
    (Mieczysław Weinberg)
  • Trio op. 48
    (Mieczysław Weinberg)
  • 2Allegro con moto05:57
  • 3Andante04:23
  • 4Moderato assai04:28
  • Sonatine op. 46
    (Mieczysław Weinberg)
  • 5Allegretto04:11
  • 6Lento05:18
  • 7Allegro moderato03:49
  • CD 2
  • Concertino op. 42
    (Mieczysław Weinberg)
  • 1Allegretto cantabile05:42
  • 2Lento05:30
  • 3Allegro moderato poco rubato04:39
  • Symphonie No. 10 op. 98
    (Mieczysław Weinberg)
  • 4Concerto grosso. Grave09:34
  • 5Pastorale. Lento08:43
  • 6Canzona. Andantino08:24
  • 7Burlesque. Allegro molto03:16
  • 8Inversion. L'istesso tempo04:38
This new album from Gidon Kremer, Kremerata Baltica and soloists, recorded at Neuhardenberg and Lockenhaus in 2012 and 2013, makes a strong case for Shostakovich’s assertion that Weinberg was one of the great composers of his era. He was certainly amongst the most prolific, with a work list that includes seven operas, twenty-two symphonies, ten concertos, seventeen string quartets and a vast output of chamber and vocal works.

Born in Warsaw in 1919, Mieczysław Weinberg studied at the Polish capital’s conservatory. His plans for further study in the United States were thwarted by the outbreak of World War II: when the Nazis invaded Poland, Weinberg fled first to Minsk and then to Tashkent. He moved to Moscow in 1943 where, his troubles far from over, he was targeted both for his modernist musical leanings and his Jewish background. (With some of his works blacklisted, Weinberg’s only income for years came from incidental music written for local theatre productions.) In 1953 he was arrested on charges of ‘Jewish bourgeois nationalism’, and jailed. Shostakovich wrote letters on his behalf, and after Stalin’s death Weinberg was released and officially rehabilitated.

Near neighbours in Moscow, Weinberg and Shostakovich spent much time together. As Wolfgang Sandner writes in the liner notes, “the two close friends, though thirteen years apart, constantly showed each other their new scores, often played piano duets together and exchanged ideas on art and composition.” Like many composers in the Soviet Union, Weinberg was obliged to spend much of his creative life negotiating the margins of freedom between official doctrine and artistic necessity. As the demands from above for Socialist Realism began to slacken in the 1960s and 70s, his art moved into its most productive phase.

The present double album opens with one of his most remarkable creations from this latter period, the extensive (22-minutes) and complex third violin sonata of 1978. Kremer ranks this work alongside Bartók’s Sonata for Solo Violin as one of the masterpieces for the instrument.
“This is music that speaks to us,” writes Wolfgang Sandner, “full of dynamism, colour and detailed articulation that never ossifies into virtuosity for its own sake. The wealth of invention in the sonata and the advanced sounds of the Tenth Symphony bear witness to a composer at the same high level as a Shostakovich or Prokofiev.”

Kremer and friends explore Weinberg’s chamber music – the Trio op 48 (composed 1950) and the Sonatina op.46 (1949) – and the commitment and skills of the Kremerata musicians are brought to bear on two strikingly-contrasting compositions for string orchestra, the graceful and lyrical Concertino op. 42 (1948) and the adventurous and gripping Symphony no 10 (1968), bringing12-tone rows and chordal structure into unexpected juxtapositions.

Mieczysław Weinberg died in Moscow in 1996. In recent years his works have begun to get a wider hearing. In particular his opera about the Holocaust, “The Passenger”, never staged in Weinberg’s lifetime, has made headlines. After a concertante version was produced in Moscow in 2006, the full staged version was premiered at the Bregenz Festival in 2010 and subsequently presented in London and Warsaw. The US premiere was in Houston in January 2014. New York performances at the Drill Hall follow in July.

Meanwhile Gidon Kremer and Kremerata Baltica continue to make the music of Mieczysław Weinberg a focus of their international touring repertoire.
2025 January 25 Herkulessaal Munich, Germany