Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Weinberg, Symphony No. 12 "In memoriam D. Shostakovich", St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra, Vladimir Lande

The music of Weinberg (1919-1996) flourishes today. The number of releases devoted to his music certainly affirms that. I have reviewed a fair amount of them here, and I must say they have left me with a very high appreciation of his brilliance.

So today we have another, this time devoted to his Symphony No. 12 "In memoriam D. Shostakovich" (Naxos 8.573085). The score was composed in 1976, some months after the death of his 32 year friend and close professional contemporary.

The symphony, understandably, has a marked elegiac tone, a very palpable gravitas. The near hour-long work has a wealth of thematic material, a kind of endless unwinding of affective melody and modern harmonic richness. It also has at times a mysterioso sort of feel to it, perhaps a meditation on life and death? At any rate it ranks among his very best symphonies of the ones I have heard, with a bitter sort of beauty I am sure Shostakovich would have appreciated.

The St Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra under Vladimir Lande do the score full justice, as they have done with some of Weinberg's other symphonies on Naxos. They strike an excellent balance between clarity and expressivity.

A bonus on this release is Weinberg's "Ballet Suite No. 4" from "The Golden Key", a somewhat lighter, less profound but thoroughly enjoyable score.

The Lande recording of Weinberg's 12th is a great place to start exploring the many facets of the composer. It is a must (especially at the Naxos price) for anyone seeking a good appreciation of the mature, later period of Weinberg in the symphonic realm. I am certainly glad to have it.

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