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Weinberg: Symphonies Vol. 3

4.0 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • Weinberg: Symphonies Vol. 3
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  • Moisei Weinberg (Mieczyslaw Vainberg): Symphonies, Vol. 1: Symphony No.; 5 in F minor, Op. 76 / Sinfonietta No. 1, Op. 41
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Editorial Reviews

Symphonies n°14 & n°16 / Orchestre Symphonique de la Radio Nationale Polonaise Katowice - Gabriel Chmura, direction
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Product Details

  • Orchestra: National Polish Radio Symph Orchestra, Katowice
  • Conductor: Gabriel Chmura
  • Composer: Mieczyslaw Weinberg
  • Audio CD (November 21, 2006)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Chandos
  • ASIN: B000IB0JRK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,060 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By G.D. VINE VOICE on March 18, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I do not want to be too optimistic, but if Chandos would give us a complete cycle of Vainberg (Chandos seems to prefer "Weinberg") symphonies it would definitely be a feather in their cap. Vainberg (1919-1996) was born in Poland, but moved to Russia in 1941 and became a close friend of Shostakovich - their styles are obviously close, but it was apparently not a one-way direction of influence, and Vainberg's style can rarely be mistaken for Shostakovich's (the similarities concern - at least with respect to the two works here - their masterly treatments of chamber like sonorities and textures more than anything else). Now, Shostakovich might have had a larger compositional range than Vainberg, whose music is more uniformly grim, sardonic and serious. Yet, I am willing to claim that Vainberg's 14th symphony is better than most of what Shostakovich ever wrote (!); in fact, I am willing to claim that this work is one of the pinnacles of 20th century symphonic music; a genuine masterpiece and an essential acquisition for anyone even modestly interested in 20th century music.

The disc starts with no. 16, however, which is also a splendid work; a driven, gritty work containing some striking colors and contrasts and some harshly effective scathing and scornful scherzo parts. Overall, however, it lacks real thematic distinction (despite a few strong ideas and overall smoldering power), and its uniform relentless toughness and sinewiness makes it a little forbidding. The performances are really impressive, however, navigating Vainberg's complex rhythms and textures with complete conviction.

No. 14 is relatively similar in general atmosphere and layout, but far more striking.
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My views more or less fall in line with those of the 07/23/11. I find these somewhat shapeless, unengaging works. I can understand how one could view them as bold and striking, but they just don't speak to me, sadly. If you're going to start sampling Weinberg's orchestral music, I'd suggest starting with later releases on Chandos conducted by Thord Svedlund.
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No problem ordering, Thank you,
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Chandos's success with earlier Weinberg recordings compelled me to purchase this disc and it comes as something of a disappointment. The two reviews posted here are all quite good in their analysis of the internal dynamics of these works, but I found them cold and in several places indecisive works. The further Weinberg is removed from the early mid-century (20th) Russian romanticism, the more unclear Weinberg is about his creative directions. He never dallies from the underlying currents of romanticism (that are also found in Shostakovich and Profofieff) but his music too often becomes angular and disjointed when melodic sobriety would be in order. He's trying to experiment with aspects of modernism but can't quite emulate the French (Boulez, Messiaen, Dutilleux, etc.) and it becomes mostly a jumble. Weinberg seems to be dodging in and out of the shadows of the greater composers around him instead of finding his own voice. Still, the two reviews above this one are quite good and followers of mid-twentieth century Russian/Soviet composers will probably want this (or want to continue the Weinberg cycle from Chandos). I do have another quibble. The recording dynamics of this disc are quite at variance with the usual Chandos standards. You have to listen to this disc in an extremely quiet environment (no ambient sound whatsoever) in order to catch the lower elements of the performance. At times, the orchestra is so quiet (distant miking, perhaps?) that when the orchestra opens up you have to turn down the sound immediately--unless you want the neighbors to complain. I would say that the problem lies with both the orchestra playing an unfamiliar work and a pack of sound personnel not knowing the music's range too well. (I'm sure neither is true, but the disc has the dynamic range of Giya Kancheli's music which is intentionally explosive--a fact that has long put me off Kancheli.)
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Mieczyslaw Weinberg (1919-1996) is one of those composers who wrote a lot of good music, but for one reason or another has managed to remain in the realm of obscurity. Thankfully, Chandos is bringing some much needed attention to Weinberg through its ongoing efforts to record the composer's complete symphonies. I immensely enjoyed the first two volumes of this series, so I was quick to purchase this disc when it was released.

The fourteenth and sixteenth symphonies presented here, composed in 1977 and 1981 respectively, are different from the fourth and fifth symphonies presented on the preceding volumes of this series, in that Weinberg appears to have adopted (or progressed to) a more texturally sparse, and intimate, musical language. Weinberg's fourth and fifth symphonies reminded me of Shostakovich; and the two symphonies presented here remind me of Shostakovich as well. Although, these two symphonies are more readily grouped with the works of Shostakovich's later years, such as Shostakovich's fourteenth and fifteenth symphonies, whereas Weinberg's fourth and fifth symphonies bare more similarities to Shostakovich's central symphonies.

Both symphonies have a tragic tone and strike me as intense works, where dissonances, angularity and harshness prevail. With that said, neither symphony is overly "difficult" from a listening standpoint. There is a certain purposefulness to these works which keeps the listener (for the most part) engaged throughout. I did note that some of the material within the slower sections was a bit bleak for my tastes, but I found the quicker sections to be consistently gripping.

Symphony No. 14 opens with a lamenting largo, colored by several woodwind solos (think Shostakovich).
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