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Weinberg: Symphony No. 12 "In memoriam D. Shostakovich"; The Golden Key, Ballet Suite No. 4 / St. Petersburg State SO

Album Summary

>Weinberg, Mieczyslaw : Symphony no 12, Op. 114 ("In Memoriam D Shostakovich")
>Weinberg, Mieczyslaw : The Golden Key, suite from the ballet no 4, Op. 55
Conductor Ensembles Composer

Notes & Reviews:

  • Mieczyslaw Weinberg's music has been earning deserved increased attention in recent years.
  • Weinberg's Symphony No. 12 is his mammoth and sympathetic response to the then recent death of Dmitri Shostakovich.
  • The St. Petersburg State Symphony is lead here by its Principal Guest Conductor, Vladimir Lande

BBC Music Magazine, February 2014
Lande and the St Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra negotiate the considerable technical demands of this complex score with impressive assurance. Supported by a wonderfully focused recording they deliver a performance that is incisive and powerfully committed.

American Record Guide, May/June 2014
Naxos follows this remarkable work perhaps as Shostakovich might have: with a goodnatured ballet suite. The Golden Key (1955) was the first of Vainberg's two ballets. It is based on an idea by Alexander Gayamov, who adapted a tale by Alexei Tolstoy. The suite is an enjoyable companion. Both performances are very good. Richard Whitehorse's excellent notes approach the symphony.

Notes & Reviews:

Recording information: Petersburg Recording Studio at the St Catherine Luthera (2012).


Important additions to a growing legacy
Mieczyslaw Weinberg was a Polish Jew who had to exist somewhat on the run from the Nazis and, later, the Stalin regime nearly his entire career. That plus having to adopt the name 'Moisey Vainberg' due to bureaucratic errors kept him unjustly unknown for a long time. An additional factor was that Weinberg's music never developed the sarcastic, modernistic "bite" that some of his colleagues found palatable to western orchestras; such as Shostakovich, for example. It was Shostakovich, in fact, who took a fondness for Weinberg's music and helped to promote it. Now, nearly twenty years after Weinberg's death, his symphonic output, in particular, is becoming deservedly better known. The connection to Shostakovich could not be more overt than in Weinberg's Symphony #12 written "In memorium (of) D. Shostakovich" in 1976, shortly after Shostakovich's death. This is a big, bold work that might remind some of the symphonies of Shostakovich in its occasionally strident harmonies and bursts of brass and percussion. I thought the third movement, Adagio, was particularly poignant and captivating. I have not heard all of Weinberg's symphonies but this is a very impressive and important work. Another aspect of Weinberg's career that somewhat echoes his mentor is in ballet scores, such as "The Golden Key." The suite heard here is from the work written in 1954 on a story by Tolstoy. Like many Russian poems and stories there is a use of animal figures to depict, somewhat sarcastically, human archetypes and more than a little social commentary. The music from the suite is lighter and certainly more dance-like than that in the weighty symphony, of course. There are some genuinely delightful and pointy numbers featuring terrific woodwind solos. I thought the "Dance of the Cat and the Fox" illustrates the mood well. Ultimately, Weinberg is an important 'secondary' twentieth-century composer whose music deserves to be played and heard. Kudos to Naxos for this latest installment in a vital series.
Submitted on 02/11/14 by Dan Coombs 
A fitting tribute to a friend
Mieczyslaw Weinberg's 12th Symphony is subtitled "In Memoriam D. Shostakovich." It was composed shortly after the death of his close friend and colleague and is a fitting tribute indeed. Weinberg incorporates many musical gestures of his late friend in this work, yet remains true to his own musical voice.

The symphony starts with a powerful angular unison figure that recalls similar passages in Shostakovich's music. To my ears, many sections reminded me of Shostakovich's 5th Symphony, alternating with his Op. 110 Chamber Symphony. But none of this is pastiche. The orchestration may echo Shostakovich, but the melodic and harmonic content is Weinberg's. An effective tribute to a fellow composer.

By contrast, the second work on the disc, the "Golden Key" is a lighthearted upbeat ballet suite. Sometimes the melodies go a little off the rails (like early Prokofiev), but that just adds a little spice. The music is very Russian in character, and Weinberg's vibrant orchestration at times sounds dazzling.

Vladimir Lande and the St. Petersberg State symphony Orchestra turn in solid performances of these works. Lande doing a particularly effective job of bringing out the authentic emotion of the symphony.

This is the third Naxos release of Weinberg symphonies with this ensemble. I hope there are more to follow.
Submitted on 04/15/14 by RGraves321 
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Works Details

>Weinberg, Mieczyslaw : Symphony no 12, Op. 114 ("In Memoriam D Shostakovich")
  • Conductor: Vladimir Lande
  • Ensemble: St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra
  • Notes: Petersburg Recording Studio at the St Catherine Lutheran Church, St Petersburg, Russia (06/10/2012-06/13/2012)
  • Running Time: 20 min. 40 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Orchestral
  • Written: 1976

>Weinberg, Mieczyslaw : The Golden Key, suite from the ballet no 4, Op. 55
  • Conductor: Vladimir Lande
  • Notes: Petersburg Recording Studio at the St Catherine Lutheran Church, St Petersburg, Russia (07/06/2012/07/07/2012)
  • Running Time: 2 min. 5 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Ballet
  • Written: 1955