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David Denton
David's Review Corner, March 2020

Naxos continue to champion Mieczyslaw Weinberg, as one of the great composers of the 20th century, though his name is still to be seldom seen in the concert halls.

Yet in the later part of his life he became prolific in almost every form of music from symphonic to instrumental works, and particularly for the theatre. Born in Poland in 1919, to that point his story had been largely one of unremitting sadness, the Second World War  saw his Jewish parents taken by the German invaders and murdered. That was compounded by his Soviet persecution that followed, Shostakovich rescuing him from that fate and helped to salvage his life as a composer. To him Weinberg owed the equal debt of influencing his style of writing that we hear in much of this disc. It concludes Naxos’s release of his four Chamber Symphonies, this being his final completed work, and one he never heard. It is a score that moves between sadness and bitterness, a fact that tinged much that he wrote. So it is the cheerlessness of the opening Lento, that gives way to a bitter anguish of the second movement as a solo clarinet screeches out in protest, only to give way to the pensive mood of the extended third movement and a finale that mixes anguish with a deep sorrow. By contrast the three movements of the Clarinet Concerto find an often virtuoso solo score and a boisterous finale that should by now have found the work a place in the concert repertoire. The earliest score on the release is the Clarinet Sonata from 1945, a piece that has found favour with its uncomplicated musical language. The soloist, Robert Oberaigner, is the principal clarinettist of the Dresden Staatskapelle, his wide range of tonal colours being put to good use, and he offers technical brilliance in abundance. The very fine Dresden Chamber Orchestra, a new ensemble making their first recording, appear here conducted by Michail Jurowski; Michael Schoch is the pianist, and the sound quality is excellent. © 2020 David’s Review Corner

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