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Cat. No. CHAN 10237 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 10237 - Weinberg: Symphony No. 4/ Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes/Sinfonietta No. 2
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Available From: 09 August 2004
Weinberg composed his Symphony No. 4 in A minor in 1957 but prepared a second version before the first performance in 1961. In the original version the four movements of the symphony had individual titles. These were subsequently removed, but it is interesting to reflect on how Weinberg originally conceived the work. The first movement is a ‘Toccata’ in sonata form, with an energetic main theme. The slightly sad ‘Serenata’ begins with a gentle clarinet theme in irregular waltz rhythm, contrasted by a fanfare-like second theme in the trumpet and flutes. The third movement, ‘Intermezzo’ is of similar beauty, and an abundance of dance rhythms dominates the finale, a ‘Rondo’, shaped as two-part variations in a variety of modes, and quoting a number of folk melodies.

There are certain reminiscences of the music of Bartók in the last movement of the Fourth Symphony, and such are also to be found in Sinfonietta No. 2 in A minor, composed in 1960, especially in the rhythmically lively first movement. It is not scored for full symphony orchestra like the first Sinfonietta (available on CHAN 10128), but for a string ensemble with timpani.

By 1949 the post-war repression of Jewish persons and organisations in the USSR was accelerating. Some of Weinberg’s works had been put on an unofficial blacklist because of their use of Jewish idioms so it is understandable that Weinberg was uncertain about his status. This was one of the reasons for his composing the Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes. The title may be regarded as a kind of camouflage, for the thematic material, while it has roots in Moldavia, springs from the culture of the Jewish portion of the country’s population. Weinberg probably, and correctly, assumed that the Party officials were not sufficiently educated to notice this..

'Gabriel Chumura and the Polish National Radio Orchestra revel in the Rhapsody's many oportunities for virtuosity, and they deliver vibrant and committed accounts of the Symphony and Sinfonietta. Add to this equation Chandos's customary state-of-the-art engineering, and you have a release that deserves the widest possibgle dissemination.'
BBC Music Magazine

'As in Volume 1, Chmura draws top-rate performances from his Polish musicians, who cope confidently with Weinberg's exposed textures. And he finds just the right note of edgy tension to tap into the ambivalent combination of humour and loss. Shostakovich characterized Jewish culture as 'laughter through tears', and Weinberg's music seems calculated to prove his point. There is fine sound too. Altogether an outstanding release, then, very strongly recommended.'

Chmura conducts with passionate conviction, and his Polish musicians respond accordingly. His pacing and instrumental balance are good, and he brings out Weinberg’s vivid tonal colours without losing either momentum of coherence… definitely recommended.


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