WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

Weinberg: Symphony No 12 "In Memoriam D. Shostakovich" / Lande

Weinberg / St Petersburg State Sym Orch / Lande
Release Date: 01/28/2014 
Label:  Naxos   Catalog #: 8573085   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Mieczyslaw Weinberg
Conductor:  Vladimir Lande
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 15 Mins. 

In Stock: Usually ships in 24 hours.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

WEINBERG Symphony No. 12. The Golden Key: Ballet Suite No. 4 Vladimir Lande, cond; St. Petersburg St SO NAXOS 8.573085 (75: 40)

I have been at least mildly enthusiastic about Lande’s previous Weinberg discs for Naxos (Symphony No. 6 on 8.572779 and Symphony No. 19 on 8.572752) and this one is as good, if not better. This is not the first recording of Weinberg’s Symphony No. 12—Maxim Shostakovich had that privilege—but it appears to be the only Read more one available on CD, and the coupling, which is very different in tone, and a nice complement to the symphony, is as enjoyable as it is generous.

Weinberg’s Symphony No. 12 “In Memoriam D. Shostakovich” was composed in 1976, a year after Shostakovich’s death. Many of Weinberg’s works are stylistically similar to Shostakovich’s. This is not surprising, as Shostakovich was a friend and mentor to Weinberg, almost from the time that the latter arrived in the Soviet Union after fleeing his native Poland. This symphony is particularly Shostakovich-like. Although it is “in memoriam,” it is not funereal in tone. In fact, like many of Shostakovich’s works, it displays an emotional ambiguity that encourages a number of interpretations from performers and from listeners alike. Shostakovich’s “Leningrad” Symphony appears to have been an especially strong source of inspiration, but the work’s structure—for example, the epic first movement—is more reminiscent of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10. The D-S-C-H (D-E?-C-B) monogram even makes several subtle appearances. The symphony’s themes are distinctive, and Weinberg is a surefooted musical architect. Another similarity with Shostakovich is his ear for unusual scoring, and his always interesting and sometimes grotesque use of wind instruments at the extremes of their register. No one hearing this symphony for the first time will miss its connections with Shostakovich. Weinberg is not an imitator, however, any more than Telemann imitated Bach.

The Golden Key is a ballet from 1955 based on a story by Aleksey Tolstoy. The lead character, Burattino, is a puppet, and the eponymous golden key allows its bearer to enter the country of Happiness. In addition to puppets, there are various animal characters as well. On one level, this is an innocent ballet—even a children’s ballet—but its themes of rebellion and idealism also suggest a deeper and even socio-political interpretation. Shostakovich’s ballet scores have their moments of excellence as well as moments of more workmanlike writing. The Golden Key , from what I have heard of it, is at least on their level. The first three suites were recorded by Mark Ermler with the Bolshoi Theater Orchestra—Olympia OCD 473, if you can find it. That disc also included excerpts from the Fourth Suite. In other words, all four suites have been recorded. Taken together, they add up to about 85 minutes of music, so I am wondering if all of the ballet’s music was used in one of the four suites.

As on the previous CDs, Lande and the St. Petersburg Symphony Orchestra are very satisfactory. Certainly one can imagine more assertive conducting and a richer sounding orchestra, but I don’t think anyone will be unhappy with these performances. In fact, I would say that this is an improvement from the earlier recordings, particularly that of the Symphony No. 6, but that’s one Weinberg symphony in which there was more competition. If you’re interested in Shostakovich, or in music from the Soviet Union in general, there is absolutely no reason not to give this fine new CD a try.

FANFARE: Raymond Tuttle
Read less

Works on This Recording

The Golden Key Suite no 4, Op. 55d by Mieczyslaw Weinberg
Conductor:  Vladimir Lande
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: USSR 
Symphony no 12, Op. 114 "In memoriam Dmitri Shostakovich" by Mieczyslaw Weinberg
Conductor:  Vladimir Lande
Orchestra/Ensemble:  St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1976; USSR 

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Review:  3 Customer Reviews )
 Disappointing sound quality April 11, 2015 By J. Empfield (Chicago, IL) See All My Reviews "Having heard Weinberg's opera The Passenger at Lyric in Chicago this year, a phenomenal piece that had been hidden for nearly forty years, I wanted to hear more of his music. I chose this symphony because of his connections to Shostakovich. It is an interesting piece but the recording quality is only fair at best. The sound is better on The Golden Key ballet suite. As Weinberg becomes better know hopefully there will be better recording available." Report Abuse
 A fitting tribute to a great artist and friend May 23, 2014 By Dean Frey See All My Reviews "The fourth disc in the Naxos series of Weinberg symphonies includes the most impressive work so far: the 12th Symphony, written in memory of Dmitri Shostakovich. Weinberg makes reference to the symphonies of his friend and supporter, and this work has more of the sound and feel of a Shostakovich symphony than some of the others on disc. Weinberg is emphatically an original composer, though, and not just a Shostakovich clone. As Alex Ross has noted Weinberg’s music and ideas contributed to Shostakovich’s art as well as in the opposite direction. There are many felicities of orchestration that show Weinberg’s originality, like the intertwining of marimba and strings in the 4th movement. This is a serious and deeply sad work that’s a fitting tribute to a great artist and a friend with whom he shared many triumphs as well as adversity. The Golden Key Suite also shows Weinberg’s mastery of a large orchestral palette, but in a lighter mood. The composer looks back to Prokofiev and Stravinsky in this suite chosen from music written for a 1962 ballet. Kudos to Naxos, and Chandos as well, as they continue building a picture of an important 20th century artist." Report Abuse
 Time for Weinberg March 29, 2014 By Due Fuss See All My Reviews "Another great release by Naxos in its library mode, which aims to bring to light the otherwise obscured name of Mieczyslaw Weinberg, a formidable Russian composer, who was a great friend to Shostakovich. Weinberg's music is not wholly original, but is nonetheless compelling and well worth a listen. This will sit nicely on my shelf in between the other Naxos Weinberg releases." Report Abuse
Review This Title