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Thursday, January 2, 2014

Weinberg, Complete Violin Sonatas, Volume Two, Kalnits, Csanyi-Wills

Mieczyslaw Weinberg (1919-1996), Russian by way of Poland, Jewish in upbringing and temperament, is undergoing a resurgence in attention, recognition. If releases are any indication (and they are) his vast output is coming to our ears in droves. Type his name in my search box at the top and you'll see I have been covering much of it. Today another one, and it contains fine music.

Weinberg's Complete Violin Sonatas Volume Two (Toccata Classics 0026) comes our way today. I've missed Volume One as yet but this second is packed with some excellent music: the Sonata Nos. 2 and 5 for Piano and Violin, the Sonata No. 2 for Solo Violin and the "Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes". The works cover the span between 1944 and 1967 and give us an excellent look at his output in this intimate setting.

Yuri Kalnits takes on the violin parts, Michael Csanyi-Wills those for the piano. They are singingly appropriate, well-prepared and idiomatically near-perfect in their readings of the works. They can go with ease from the folk-Jewish aspects to the contemporary Russian expressionism that channels Prokofiev and Shostakovitch with what is assuredly a Weinberg originality.

The works all have a modern tang in the Russian 20th century manner without involvement particularly in an avant garde approach. But the music doesn't sound dated or hearkening back. The solo violin sonata has a wider tonal palette and a more continual cadenza-like suspension of time. Weinberg scores well on what he does in this realm. The other works alternate vibrant lyricism with passages of exciting forward momentum, much with the Russian modern bitter-sweet quality his music shares at times with the aforementioned Prokofiev and Shostakovitch. Yet he sounds directly like neither, no more than you could say that Schubert sounds like Beethoven. Deep down Weinberg expresses Weinberg.

And he does so in fabulous fashion on this disk. Kudos to Kalnits and Csanyi-Wills for their beautiful performances.

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