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Weinberg: Complete Violin Sonatas Vol 2 / Kalnits, Csanyi-wills

Weinberg / Kalnits / Csanyi-wills
Release Date: 11/19/2013 
Label:  Toccata Classics   Catalog #: 026   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Mieczyslaw Weinberg
Performer:  Yuri KalnitsMichael Csáanyi-Wills
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 11 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

WEINBERG Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes (arr. Weinberg). Violin Sonatas Nos. 2 and 5. Sonata No. 2 for Solo Violin Yuri Kalnits (vn); Michael Csányi-Wills (pn) TOCCATA 0026 (70:58)

Mieczys?aw Weinberg’s output continues to emerge on CD. One of the more interesting features of the Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes is that the music has a certain Hassidic quality, meaning the use of minor keys Read more and descending melodic passages with flatted 7ths and 6ths. Of course, much Eastern European ethnic music falls into this category, including Rumanian and Polish music, but these themes (the notes explain) were consciously chosen because Weinberg’s mother came from Kishinyov (now Chisnâu), where “Bessarabian musical folklore was strongly influenced by the huge Jewish population.” The exuberant and exciting way Weinberg manages his musical materials makes the piece more than just a trifle. The composer made this violin-piano arrangement from his original orchestral version (of which there is a fine recording by Vladimir Lande and the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra on Naxos 8.572779) with fingerings for the solo part provided in the published score by David Oistrakh.

The Sonata No. 2 for Violin and Piano, composed in 1944, was not premiered until 18 years later, by Oistrakh and pianist Frieda Bauer. Its opening theme sounds very much like the Rhapsody, but its development is much more along the lines of Shostakovich’s music. Happily, Weinberg avoids—consciously or unconsciously—the crudeness of much of Shostakovich’s music and the streaks of self-pity. It is serious music, yet imbued by palpable energy in the first movement and wonderful lyricism in the second. The catchy but offbeat rhythm of the last movement rides the Sonata off into an almost ferocious Finale.

This is the first recording of Weinberg’s Second Sonata for Solo Violin. Composed in 1967, annotator David Fanning explains that its overall tone is “less confrontational in character and more of a suite in overall conception.” Indeed, the music is very quirky, its seven movements given titles descriptive of musical terms ( Monody, Rests, Intervals, etc.), and so diverse that one can very well imagine the individual movements being played alone in concerts. It is, however, well written and employs a great amount of contrast within each movement, short though they are (the timings range from 1:27 to 3:38, with most of them averaging around two minutes). In places, almost aggressively abrasive dissonances give way to fascinating in brief development sections.

Weinberg’s Fifth Violin Sonata dates from 1953, shortly after he was released following a harrowing 11 weeks at the Lubyanka prison on the charge of “Jewish bourgeois nationalism.” Like in his Second Sonata, and more so in the Rhapsody, Weinberg here “absorbs folk-like intonations” into his style, but the synthesis is now more complete, showing his marked maturity as a composer. There is a wonderfully plaintive quality in the first movement, for instance, where Weinberg simplifies his style harmonically and produces a simply gorgeous spun-out melodic structure. And here, particularly, Kalnits displays an almost otherworldly sense of pathos and lyricism, which then turns into lyricism combined with forward momentum in the rapid second movement. The third movement ( Allegro moderato ) is wistful and almost nostalgic in character despite its energetic tempo, as is the Finale (note, particularly, the diminuendo on the last high note). What excellent music this is!

Kalnits is a good violinist with strong emotion and wonderful empathy for this material, though his tone tends towards wiriness and a bit of whining in the upper range. Csányi-Wills is a fine, sensitive accompanist. Together they make a strong case for most of this music becoming part of the standard repertoire.

FANFARE: Lynn René Bayley
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Works on This Recording

Moldavian Rhapsody for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 47 no 3 by Mieczyslaw Weinberg
Performer:  Yuri Kalnits (Violin), Michael Csáanyi-Wills (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1949 
Venue:  St John's Church, Fulham Broadway, Londo 
Length: 9 Minutes 57 Secs. 
Sonata for Violin and Piano no 2, Op. 15 by Mieczyslaw Weinberg
Performer:  Yuri Kalnits (Violin), Michael Csáanyi-Wills (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1944 
Venue:  St John's Church, Fulham Broadway, Londo 
Length: 21 Minutes 2 Secs. 
Sonata for violin No. 2, Op. 95 by Mieczyslaw Weinberg
Performer:  Yuri Kalnits (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1967 
Venue:  St John's Church, Fulham Broadway, Londo 
Length: 14 Minutes 41 Secs. 
Sonata for Violin and Piano no 5, Op. 53 by Mieczyslaw Weinberg
Performer:  Yuri Kalnits (Violin), Michael Csáanyi-Wills (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1953 
Venue:  St John's Church, Fulham Broadway, Londo 
Length: 22 Minutes 28 Secs. 

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