The unstoppable master of intimated emotion

The unstoppable master of intimated emotion

Album Of The Week

norman lebrecht

January 16, 2022

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

At the turn of the 21st century, there was hardly any Weinberg to be found on record, except on scratchy old Soviet LPs. Two decades on, there is so much Weinberg about it is hard to advise a new listener where to begin.

Weinberg is one of those composers – like Martinu and Milhaud, for instance – who kept on writing, with or without commission, carrying on even when publishers refused to put out any more. …

Read on here.

And here.

In The Critic here.

In Czech here.

In Spanish here.

En francais ici.


  • Brettermeier says:

    And somebody finally updated the voting/comment system. Thank you. Fix confirmed.

    (Still, it’s beyond my understanding how this could go unnoticed and/or unfixed for such a long time. I’m pretty sure I mentioned this on more than one occasion.)

  • Smiling Larry says:

    Thanks very much for calling attention to these two recent Weinberg CDs. “Unstoppable master of intimated emotion” sums it up beautifully. All of this music is worth getting to know better (and that includes the sonata for two violins, not mentioned).

    If only we could get more live Weinberg performances here in the USA! Even the trumpeter for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, who recorded the Trumpet Concerto with the St. Petersburg Symphony for Naxos, is unable to get his own orchestra to program that concerto, or anything else by Weinberg for that matter. The Berlin Philharmonic programmed the concerto last month … lucky Berlin!

    Until then, we make do with CDs. I already own violinist Linus Roth’s CD reviewed here, along with his other Weinberg recordings, and they are all excellent and reward repeated listenings. For starters, I would certainly recommend to anybody either (or both) of his violin recordings of the irresistible Moldavian Rhapsody in both the piano and orchestra accompanied versions.

    For the Chamber Symphonies, the East-West Chamber Orchestra CD is indeed wonderful, though I marginally prefer the Amadeus Chamber Orchestra of Polish Radio in Nos. 2 and 4 at least (where the composer’s name is given as Wajnberg, phonetically correct in Polish perhaps). I agree with the other reviewer here that the Kremerata Baltica performances are also very powerful but could have been better recorded; their orchestral arrangement of the Piano Quintet does nothing to displace the original for me. However, there is another orchestral arrangement of that quintet by Mathias Baier, recorded by Elisaveta Blumina and the Georgian Chamber Orchestra, which I find quite effective.

    Meanwhile, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla has been programming the 3rd Symphony lately, and I’d like to think a recording is in the works but I don’t want to start a false rumor … can anyone enlighten?

    • esfir ross says:

      “Moldavian Rhapsody”‘s not a good composition. It was commissioned and MW stole from G.Enescu Rhapsody #1. MW didn’t knew Moldavian folklore well. I dreaded this music. Shouldn’t be played much.

      • John Borstlap says:

        But what do you want? The guy lived in Russia.

      • Smiling Larry says:

        No, the Moldavian Rhapsody was not commissioned.

        As to its intrinsic worth, it was premiered and then frequently played as an encore by David Oistrakh, whose taste in music is presumably to be taken seriously.

        Further, it is ridiculous to imagine any composer “stealing” from a popular work like the Enesco Rhapsody and actually expecting to get away with it. On those grounds, it could be said that Enesco in turn “stole” from the rhapsodies of Liszt … who, like Bartok, Brahms and Haydn and countless others, “stole” from now-anonymous Hungarian musicians.

        Finally, it is beyond ridiculous to assert that Weinberg did not know the folklore of his own Moldavian parents. Here is Peter Laki on the subject (from notes on a performance of the orchestra-only version):

        “The Soviet Communist Party always urged composers to use melodies from the country’s various ethnic traditions. It was natural for Weinberg to turn to Moldavia, his parents’ birthplace, which had been annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940, the year after Weinberg’s flight from Poland. (The region had been part of the Russian Empire before the revolution, although most of it belonged to the Kingdom of Romania during the interwar years). Obeying political directives was more vital than ever in 1949, one year after an infamous Party resolution had not only harshly denounced but physically threatened the country’s most famous composers. Weinberg, only 29 at the time, was too young to be singled out for censure, but he was implicitly included in the ranks of the condemned “formalists.” And in his case, the general calamity had been compounded by an even more disastrous event involving his immediate family: in January 1948 his father-in-law, the famous Yiddish actor Solomon Michoels, was murdered in Minsk on direct orders from Stalin. It was under such historical circumstances that the Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes was written. The Rhapsody strings together a number of folk songs from Moldavia, a country that is culturally and linguistically very close to Romania. Most of the melodies Weinberg used belong to the majority population, but the fiery final section is an unmistakable Jewish klezmer dance tune. According to a 1903 statistic, the inhabitants of Moldavia’s capital, Chișinău (Kishinev), were almost 50% Jewish. That year, a devastating pogrom took place in the town, with 49 dead and 1,500 homes damaged. It is hard to imagine that Weinberg should not have thought of that tragedy, at least secretly, when he composed this brilliantly orchestrated work that contributed significantly to his growing reputation in Moscow.”

  • Piano Trio recorded 1995; Darkness & Light; Albany Records: Vainberg, who died a year later, comments in the liner notes. George Marsh violin, Steven Honigberg cello, Joseph Holt piano

  • John Borstlap says:

    Weinberg is a real discovery. In style close to Shostakovich but different, he has his own sound.

    Here is a bit of his 2nd chamber symphony – a kind of neo-classical music but without the coolness associated with that style:

  • Emery says:

    Would someone like to share their url link to an English-subtitled version of the complete The Passenger?

  • esfir ross says:

    I don’t remember MW music on programs in concert halls of USSR. He wasn’t premier composer, his soundtrack to movies wasn’t popular.MW created in time of R.Shchedrin, G.Sviridov, A.Schnitke, German Galinin, V.Gavrilin, Boris Tishchenko, Aram Khachaturian, M.Tariverdiev. Music of MW wasn’t forbidden-just not catching with music lovers.