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Mieczyslaw Weinberg
Three Palms; Trío de cuerda;... (Weinberg Edition, vol. 5)


REF.: NEOS 11129
EAN 13: 4260063111297



FECHA DE PUBLICACIÓN
07/09/2011

INTÉRPRETES
Kana Matsui, violín
Johannes Flieder, viola
Christoph Stradner, violonchelo
Talia Or, soprano
EOS-Quartett Wien
Jürgen Ellensohn, trompeta
Symphonieorchester Vorarlberg
Gérard Korsten, director


CONTENIDO

Mieczyslaw Weinberg (1919-1996):

[01] Three Palms for string quartet and soprano op.?120 (1977) 23:04
Cantata after verses by Mikhail Lermontov

Trio for Violin, Viola and Violoncello op. 48 (1950) 15:18
[02] Allegro 05:23
[03] Andante 05:32
[04] Moderato assai 04:23

Trumpet Concerto No. 1 in B flat major op. 94 (1967) 22:49
[05] Études – Allegro molto 08:06
[06] Épisodes – Andante 08:55
[07] Fanfares – Andante 05:48

1 SACD - DDD / Stereo Hybrid Multichannel - 61'13''

The Weinberg retrospective at the Bregenz Festival in 2010 was centred round the world stage premiere of his opera, “The Passenger”, but with over twenty other works it opened a door onto the incredible richness in this forgotten composer’s œuvre. Weinberg felt compelled to compose to justify his survival from the Holocaust – the sole member of his family to do so, and his magnificent output of symphonic and chamber music is full of the melancholy and defiance that survival engendered. We are very grateful to NEOS for enabling others to participate in the resurrection of this inspired and important composer.

David Pountney

Three Palms for string quartet and soprano, op. 120 (1977)

A poem by Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov (1814–1841) speaks of three palm trees in the Arabian desert. Weinberg used this text as the basis of his like-named work, scored for the unusual combination of soprano and string quartet. The character of this 20-minute work, conceived in 1977, comes from its mixture of chamber music, song cycle and cantata.

Stylistically it is uncommonly expressive, interspersed with many lyrical passages. Its model was surely Arnold Schoenberg’s Second String Quartet, op. 10 (1908), which likewise adds a soprano voice to the sound of a string quartet. Schoenberg’s work, too, comes to terms with a profoundly personal experience – a relation likewise important to Weinberg in his op. 120. In Lermontov’s poem, three palm trees complain to God about their uselessness.

The response has a violence reminiscent of the Old Testament: a group of Bedouins arrive and use the trees for their campfire. Only in their deaths are the trees given their raison d’être. Therein lies the piece’s symbolic message. Weinberg has retraced feelings of loneliness, and later of rage and despair, as if in silverpoint. Chromatic turns of phrase, reflecting the topos of suffering in earlier music, undergird the sorrow of this sacrifice, which, toward the end, leads to absolute desolation.

Whether the three palm trees are emblematic of the Holocaust, the deaths of Weinberg’s three family members or his own sufferings in the artistic dictatorship of the Soviet Union remains an open question. Perhaps all these aspects played a role in the music. Whatever the case, his great empathy for the fate of the three palm trees is everywhere apparent, impressively transformed into music.


Trio for Violin, Viola and Violoncello op. 48 (1950)

Mieczyslaw Weinberg wrote his String Trio, op. 48, as early as 1950, but the work remained unpublished for many years, and until 2007 it existed only the form of an autograph score. Its origins in the Stalin years may have affected its earnest character. It has been suggested that Weinberg envisioned a performance by musicians at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre, but in the end the work only resurfaced after his death.

In musical terms it may be viewed as a dance suite. Ever since the days of Mozart and Beethoven the string trio genre has had a playful divertimento character, unlike the more learned string quartet. This dance element also prevails in Weinberg’s String Trio, though coupled with an admixture of melancholy. The origins of the folk influences in Weinberg’s music are often impossible to pinpoint. His periods of residence in Poland, Byelorussia and Uzbekistan surely had an influence on him, and Moldavia and, of course, Russian folk music were important sources of inspiration. But he always availed himself of a genuine Jewish musical style that merged with the folk cultures in each of these countries.

It is equally possible to listen to a work like the String Trio as a composition by a man forced into “inner immigration”. The festive character of the opening Allegro has a slightly sarcastic undertone. The D-minor Andante mingles the sorrowful vocal lines with a note of defiance – an effect reminiscent of the proud slow sections of an Hungarian csárdás. All three musicians are involved in the score on an equal basis. The sound has the lightness of chamber music that rises in some passages to an almost orchestral splendour. In this small but substantial work, Weinberg succeeds in creating a fiery plea for artistic freedom. Heard in this light, the long dormancy of this masterpiece seems almost self-explanatory.


Trumpet Concerto in B-flat major, op. 94 (1967)

Unlike Shostakovich, the ever-curious Weinberg also wrote concertos for otherwise neglected instruments, including the flute, clarinet and trumpet. The latter instrument also plays a leading role in Russia’s circus music. In the Soviet period, these spectacles were even managed by a specially appointed government authority. Many leading composers wrote music for acrobats and clowns under the Big Top.

In Weinberg’s Trumpet Concerto of 1967 the boisterous circus antics of the rhythmically forceful and garish opening movement are mingled with a touch of sarcasm. The middle movement in particular, with its alternating series of bombastic and contemplative “episodes”, sounds like the mental drama of a dolorous clown – perhaps a self-reflection of the composer.

Premièred in 1968, Weinberg’s Trumpet Concerto was written for the outstanding trumpeter Timofei Dokshitzer, the world-famous arranger of Arutiunian’s Trumpet Concerto. The soloist can flex his limbs in a large cadenza in the final movement. The design of this tranquil finale is extraordinary: it contains a stately number of familiar quotations, including the fanfare from Mendelssohn’s Wedding March at the opening, followed by allusions to the crow of the rooster from Rimsky-Korsakov’s Golden Cockerel and the March of the Street Urchins from Bizet’s Carmen.

Surely other quotations and military fanfares lurk in its pages as well. Instead of ending with an expected madcap stretta, Weinberg concluded the concerto with a farewell collage beholden to the spirit of modern music. Shostakovich was so impressed by this novel structure that he referred to the concerto as a “symphony for trumpet and orchestra”.

Matthias Corvin
Translation: J. Bradford Robinson


RESEÑA (La Quinta de Mahler)

A lo largo de su dura existencia, a Mieczyslaw Weinberg le salieron enemigos por todos los lados. Primero fueron los nazis, luego Stalin. Tampoco la llegada de la perestroika le benefició en exceso: los tardíos reconocimientos que en forma de premios le había brindado el régimen comunista acabaron por convertirle de víctima en cómplice. Amigos Weinberg tuvo pocos, pero buenos. Prófugo en la Unión Soviética después del estallido de la Segunda Guerra Mundial (su familia se quedó en Polonia y murió en los campos de concentración alemanes), contó desde muy temprano con el apoyo de Shostakovich, quien representó para él un fundamental referente estético como compositor.
El estreno en versión escenificada de la ópera La Pasajera en el Festival de Bregenz de 2010 ha sido la culminación de un proceso de recuperación del legado de Weinberg emprendido en tiempos muy recientes. Aquellas representaciones se enmarcaban en una más amplia retrospectiva con la que el certamen austriaco se proponía ofrecer una panorámica de la producción del músico. Animado por la buena acogida del DVD de La Pasajera, el sello Neos publica ahora una serie de cinco discos con una selección de la veintena de obras programadas en Bregenz. 
Pese a no haber dado nunca clase con Shostakovich, Weinberg siempre se consideró discípulo suyo. Escuchando su música, saltan a la vista las similitudes entre los dos, aunque Weinberg –al margen de afinidades espirituales y deudas estilísticas evidente– supo ser algo más que un simple seguidor y fue capaz de crear un universo propio. En el caso del Requiem op. 96, no deja de haber curiosas coincidencias con la “fúnebre” Sinfonía nº 14 de Shostakovich, empezando por la utilización de textos de García Lorca y el empleo camerístico de la plantilla orquestal. Lejos de tonos dramáticos e imponentes, el Requiem de Weinberg se caracteriza en general por un tono resignado y elegíaco. Sus sonoridades son contenidas, las texturas transparentes con presencia de numerosos solos instrumentales (el clave en el segundo episodio, quizá para evocar la sonoridad de una guitarra imaginaria). Núcleo emotivo de esta cuasi cantata (interviene un coro de niños pero el mayor protagonismo vocal es para la soprano) es el cuarto episodio, inspirado en la tragedia de Hiroshima, de coloración vagamente oriental.
El humanismo de Weinberg y el recuerdo de la Segunda Guerra Mundial afloran también en la Sinfonía nº 6, suerte de himno a la paz y la libertad, y sobre todo en la monumental Sinfonía nº 17, cuyos amplios cuadros sonoros componen una especie de autobiografía interior rematada por un movimiento lento conclusivo de regusto mahleriano. A una estética neoclásica, de corte más conciso y objetivo no exento de guiños irónicos, remiten la brillante Sinfonietta nº 1 y el Concierto para trompeta nº 1. Si en la Sinfonietta destaca el empleo de materiales folclóricos, el Concierto para trompeta escoge en su tercer movimiento la senda del collage, en un discurso trufado de citas cultas (Mendelssohn, Bizet, Rimski-Korsakov…). No es éste el Weinberg más habitual ni posiblemente el más personal, pero es útil para obtener un retrato completo del músico.
Si el interés de los discos orquestales es máximo, el cuarto y quinto volumen –consagrados mayoritariamente a la producción de cámara– se sitúan un peldaño abajo no tanto porque la calidad de las piezas sea inferior como porque en ese ámbito lo mejor de Weinberg hay que buscarlo en sus cuartetos de cuerda (de los que existe una integral en curso en CPO). No obstante, cabe destacar la originalidad de Three Palms (1977) para cuarteto de cuerda y soprano: una pieza que, lejos de los planteamientos del Cuarteto nº 2 de Schoenberg, se vertebra alrededor de un largo poema de Lermontov, desgraciadamente no reproducido en los comentarios del disco. La Sonata para violonchelo nº 2 (1959) y el Quinteto con piano (1944) son obras en donde la silueta de Shostakovich emerge con claridad pero sin restar interés al resultado final, mientras que el Trío de cuerda (1948) lanza destellos neoclásicos, con un Andante central construido sobre una fluida polifonía cantante.
En el capítulo de las interpretaciones, destaca la aportación de Vladimir Fedoseyev, a cuya batuta están encomendados el Réquiem y las Sinfonías nº 6 y 17 (esta última dedicada precisamente a él). Notable también la contribución de Gérard Korsten (Sinfonietta nº 1, Concierto para trompeta nº 1), si bien todos los cinco volúmenes de esta Edición Weinberg de Neos se caracterizan por un nivel interpretativo globalmente alto. 

Stefano Russomanno

The Weinberg retrospective at the Bregenz Festival in 2010 was centred round the world stage premiere of his opera The Passenger, but with over twenty other works it opened a door onto the incredible richness in this forgotten composer’s œuvre. Weinberg felt compelled to compose to justify his survival from the Holocaust – the sole member of his family to do so, and his magnificent output of symphonic and chamber music is full of the melancholy and defiance that survival engendered. We are very grateful to NEOS for enabling others to participate in the resurrection of this inspired and important composer.

David Pountney

---

Three Palms for string quartet and soprano, op. 120 (1977)

A poem by Mikhail Yuryevich Lermontov (1814–1841) speaks of three palm trees in the Arabian desert. Weinberg used this text as the basis of his like-named work, scored for the unusual combination of soprano and string quartet. The character of this 20-minute work, conceived in 1977, comes from its mixture of chamber music, song cycle and cantata.

Stylistically it is uncommonly expressive, interspersed with many lyrical passages. Its model was surely Arnold Schoenberg’s Second String Quartet, op. 10 (1908), which likewise adds a soprano voice to the sound of a string quartet. Schoenberg’s work, too, comes to terms with a profoundly personal experience – a relation likewise important to Weinberg in his op. 120. In Lermontov’s poem, three palm trees complain to God about their uselessness.

The response has a violence reminiscent of the Old Testament: a group of Bedouins arrive and use the trees for their campfire. Only in their deaths are the trees given their raison d’être. Therein lies the piece’s symbolic message. Weinberg has retraced feelings of loneliness, and later of rage and despair, as if in silverpoint. Chromatic turns of phrase, reflecting the topos of suffering in earlier music, undergird the sorrow of this sacrifice, which, toward the end, leads to absolute desolation.

Whether the three palm trees are emblematic of the Holocaust, the deaths of Weinberg’s three family members or his own sufferings in the artistic dictatorship of the Soviet Union remains an open question. Perhaps all these aspects played a role in the music. Whatever the case, his great empathy for the fate of the three palm trees is everywhere apparent, impressively transformed into music.

Trio for Violin, Viola and Violoncello op. 48 (1950)

Mieczyslaw Weinberg wrote his String Trio, op. 48, as early as 1950, but the work remained unpublished for many years, and until 2007 it existed only the form of an autograph score. Its origins in the Stalin years may have affected its earnest character. It has been suggested that Weinberg envisioned a performance by musicians at Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre, but in the end the work only resurfaced after his death.

In musical terms it may be viewed as a dance suite. Ever since the days of Mozart and Beethoven the string trio genre has had a playful divertimento character, unlike the more learned string quartet. This dance element also prevails in Weinberg’s String Trio, though coupled with an admixture of melancholy. The origins of the folk influences in Weinberg’s music are often impossible to pinpoint. His periods of residence in Poland, Byelorussia and Uzbekistan surely had an influence on him, and Moldavia and, of course, Russian folk music were important sources of inspiration. But he always availed himself of a genuine Jewish musical style that merged with the folk cultures in each of these countries.

It is equally possible to listen to a work like the String Trio as a composition by a man forced into “inner immigration”. The festive character of the opening Allegro has a slightly sarcastic undertone. The D-minor Andante mingles the sorrowful vocal lines with a note of defiance – an effect reminiscent of the proud slow sections of an Hungarian csárdás. All three musicians are involved in the score on an equal basis. The sound has the lightness of chamber music that rises in some passages to an almost orchestral splendour. In this small but substantial work, Weinberg succeeds in creating a fiery plea for artistic freedom. Heard in this light, the long dormancy of this masterpiece seems almost self-explanatory.

Trumpet Concerto in B-flat major, op. 94 (1967)

Unlike Shostakovich, the ever-curious Weinberg also wrote concertos for otherwise neglected instruments, including the flute, clarinet and trumpet. The latter instrument also plays a leading role in Russia’s circus music. In the Soviet period, these spectacles were even managed by a specially appointed government authority. Many leading composers wrote music for acrobats and clowns under the Big Top.

In Weinberg’s Trumpet Concerto of 1967 the boisterous circus antics of the rhythmically forceful and garish opening movement are mingled with a touch of sarcasm. The middle movement in particular, with its alternating series of bombastic and contemplative “episodes”, sounds like the mental drama of a dolorous clown – perhaps a self-reflection of the composer.

Premièred in 1968, Weinberg’s Trumpet Concerto was written for the outstanding trumpeter Timofei Dokshitzer, the world-famous arranger of Arutiunian’s Trumpet Concerto. The soloist can flex his limbs in a large cadenza in the final movement. The design of this tranquil finale is extraordinary: it contains a stately number of familiar quotations, including the fanfare from Mendelssohn’s Wedding March at the opening, followed by allusions to the crow of the rooster from Rimsky-Korsakov’s Golden Cockerel and the March of the Street Urchins from Bizet’s Carmen.

Surely other quotations and military fanfares lurk in its pages as well. Instead of ending with an expected madcap stretta, Weinberg concluded the concerto with a farewell collage beholden to the spirit of modern music. Shostakovich was so impressed by this novel structure that he referred to the concerto as a “symphony for trumpet and orchestra”.

Matthias Corvin
Translation: J. Bradford Robinson

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