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Cat. No. CHSA 5089 Price: 11.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHSA 5089 - Weinberg: Symphony No. 3/ Suite No. 4 from 'The Golden Key'
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Available From: 15 April 2011
Weinberg: Symphony No. 3/ Suite No. 4 from 'The Golden Key'

The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra conducted by Thord Svedlund is back with a new recording in Chandos’ ongoing series devoted to orchestral works by Weinberg. This is proving a benchmark series, one that has contributed significantly to Weinberg’s reappraisal in recent years. International Record Review described the CD of concertos by Weinberg (CHAN 5064) as ‘one of the most sheerly exciting discs to come my way in a long time… a release of first importance’.

Born in Poland into a Jewish family, Mieczyslaw Weinberg fled before the German invasion in 1939 and spent most of his working life in the Soviet Union where he was a friend and neighbour of Shostakovich who did much to champion his music. He composed his Third Symphony between 1949 and 1950, shortly after the launch of Andrey Zhdanov’s ‘anti-formalism’ campaign which exhorted all Soviet composers to produce music for the People, i.e. in a broadly comprehensible language, preferably drawing on folk material. Weinberg obliged by placing a Belorussian folksong (‘What a Moon’) as a contrasting theme in the first movement, and a mazurka-like Polish folksong (‘Matek has died’) at the corresponding point in the second; the latter then transformed to produce the main theme of the finale.

This nod in the direction of official recommendations still was not enough to ensure a performance of the symphony. The premiere which had been scheduled to take place in Moscow was postponed. Later Weinberg was said to have discovered a number of ‘errors’ during rehearsals and therefore made the decision to cancel the performance. Perhaps this was simply an attempt to cover up official pressure to withdraw the work, perhaps not. In any case, Weinberg revisited the material ten years later, and the revised version was first heard in 1960 in the Great Hall of the Conservatory in Moscow, performed by the All-Union Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra conducted by Alexander Gauk.

Weinberg composed the ballet The Golden Key in 1954 – 55 on a popular tale by Aleksey Tolstoy, which mixes elements of the story of Pinocchio with that of Petrushka, hinting too at Jack and the Beanstalk. The music itself can be heard as a gallery of the great Russian masters of orchestration, Weinberg taking us on a journey of Tchaikovskian waltzes, Rimskian brass works, flashes of Stravinsky’s Petrushka in the winds and in some of the dance rhythms, and gorgeous adagios of the sort Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet taught Russian composers how to write.
 

Reviews

“…Svedlund and his Gothenburgers are now old hats when it comes to Weinberg’s music, and the klipspringer confidence with which they leap about his often vertiginous textures is exhilarating.”
Martin Anderson – Tempo magazine – Vol 66 2012

                        Best of the Year for 2011
One of the best classical releases for 2011
Audiophile Auditon - 27 December 2011

"...definately recommended."
Barry Brenesal - Fanfare - September/October 2011


“Two nourishing finds, sympathetically performed and sumptuously recorded.”
Andrew Achenbach – Gramophone – August 2011
 

Performance ****   Recording *****
“… both works are projected with great energy and commitment by Thord Svedlund and the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in this sumptuously recorded release.”
Erik Levi – BBC Music magazine – August 2011
 

"...in my opinion, one of his most charming and individual symphonies... based on many Russian folk elements, it boasts as ease of melodic creation and rhythmic fluidity rarely heard ... from any mid-20th century composer ... A short symphony packed with inventiveness, creative ideas, and most of all a writing skill matched by few. At the present time, this new recording seems to be the only recording available of this captivating symphonic work well worth investigating.This Weinberg dedicated series of recordings from Chandos has been a pleasure to follow since day one. Every single release in the series has been a thrill to listen to, including this one. If your musical taste and preference leans towards the Russian masters like Prokofiev and Shostakovich, this recording should feel right at home within your collection."
Jean-Yves Duperron -  The Classical Music Sentinel - 1 June 2011

“…a warm recommendation…”
Richard Whitehouse – International Record Review – June 2011

 

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