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Weinberg: Complete Piano Works Vol 3 / Allison Brewster Franzetti

Weinberg / Brewster Franzetti
Release Date: 10/30/2012 
Label:  Grand Piano   Catalog #: 610   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Mieczyslaw Weinberg
Performer:  Allison Brewster Franzetti
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 2 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

On the face of it, Grand Piano's third volume in Allison Brewster Franzetti's recording of Weinberg's complete works for solo piano looks like one for the most serious of collectors or stoutest of Weinberg fans only. The three Children's Notebooks and Easy Pieces op.34 seem to add up to an hour's worth of music that hardly qualifies as 'essential' Weinberg, especially in comparison with the three Sonatas of volume 1 (GP603) and a further Sonata and Partita in volume 2 (GP607, review). These are not even first recordings: the three Children's Notebooks appeared both in 2011, played by Elisaveta Blumina for CPO (777 517-2), and in 2010, with Jascha Nemtsov on Hänssler Classic (93.233).

Yet what true music-lover would be
Read more without Schumann's Kinderszenen or Album for the Young or Debussy's Children's Corner? Weinberg is every bit as compelling a composer as Schumann or Debussy, as his rapidly growing discography testifies.

The 21 Easy Pieces were written in the space of three summer days in 1946, a fact to which their brevity - the shortest lasts barely fifteen seconds! - relative simplicity and general upbeat nature testify. For Weinberg these primarily pedagogic pieces probably felt like a well-earned rest after the recent Third Sonata.

Of much more interest are the somewhat misdirectingly named Children's Notebooks. Though Weinberg had them published in three sets, the final volume also contained the previous two, and the composer had written 23 Preludes on the surviving manuscripts, indications that he also saw them as a contiguous project. At the time he had befriended Shostakovich, whose own Children's Notebook op.69 was completed shortly after Weinberg's. Whereas Shostakovich's were aimed at his six-year-old daughter, only child prodigies are likely to have much joy with most of Weinberg's! Their sophistication lies not only in their post-war harmonies but in their slightly noirish expressiveness, hinting at emotional depths and nooks beyond a child's ken. Nevertheless, with a typical length of two minutes and a rhythmic lyricism underpinning every item, audiences of all ages should find the Notebooks a very satisfying experience.

New York-born Allison Brewster Franzetti rounds off with a sub-minute Can-Can, which sounds as though it dates from Weinberg's own childhood, although he actually wrote it in 1965! Brewster Franzetti is wife of Argentina-born composer-pianist Carlos Franzetti, best known perhaps for his jazz/'classical' fusion music, which the couple have played and indeed recorded together. Her two previous Weinberg volumes were very well received, and Brewster Franzetti again shows herself to be on multi-faceted, persuasive form. She needs to be too, because this cycle has some mano a mano competition from Scottish pianist Murray McLachlan, whose recording of Weinberg's six Piano Sonatas proper has just been released by Divine Art in two consecutive volumes of their excellent Russian Piano Music series (DDA25105, DDA25107).

Sound quality is very good, although it should be noted that the recording is close up. David Fanning's English-German notes are well written, and there are some nice black-and-white photos of the composer from the archives.

Naxos/HNH's Grand Piano label has got off to a flying start, with twenty releases so far in its first year. All have featured a different cover painting by the Norwegian artist Gro Thorsen, which if nothing else adds to the collectible allure of the series.

-- Byzantion, MusicWeb International Read less

Works on This Recording

1.
Children's Notebook for Piano no 3, Op. 23 by Mieczyslaw Weinberg
Performer:  Allison Brewster Franzetti (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944-1945; USSR 
2.
Children's Notebook for Piano no 2, Op. 19 by Mieczyslaw Weinberg
Performer:  Allison Brewster Franzetti (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944-1945; USSR 
3.
Children's Notebook for Piano no 1, Op. 16 by Mieczyslaw Weinberg
Performer:  Allison Brewster Franzetti (Piano)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1944-1945; USSR 
4.
Easy Pieces (21) for Piano, Op. 34 by Mieczyslaw Weinberg
Performer:  Allison Brewster Franzetti (Piano)
Period: Modern 
Written: 1946 
5.
Can-Can by Mieczyslaw Weinberg
Performer:  Allison Brewster Franzetti (Piano)

Sound Samples

Children's Notebook, Book 1, Op. 16: I. Larghetto
Children's Notebook, Book 1, Op. 16: II. Allegro
Children's Notebook, Book 1, Op. 16: III. Moderato maestoso
Children's Notebook, Book 1, Op. 16: IV. Tempo di valse
Children's Notebook, Book 1, Op. 16: V. Allegretto
Children's Notebook, Book 1, Op. 16: VI. Presto
Children's Notebook, Book 1, Op. 16: VII. Andante tranquillo
Children's Notebook, Book 1, Op. 16: VIII. Larghetto
Children's Notebook, Book 2, Op. 19: I. Largo
Children's Notebook, Book 2, Op. 19: II. Allegretto
Children's Notebook, Book 2, Op. 19: III. Moderato
Children's Notebook, Book 2, Op. 19: IV. Lento
Children's Notebook, Book 2, Op. 19: V. Allegro
Children's Notebook, Book 2, Op. 19: VI. Andantino
Children's Notebook, Book 2, Op. 19: VII. Marziale lugubre
Children's Notebook, Book 2, Op. 19: VIII. Andante
Children's Notebook, Book 3, Op. 23: I. Allegro marcato
Children's Notebook, Book 3, Op. 23: II. Allegro commodo
Children's Notebook, Book 3, Op. 23: III. Moderato
Children's Notebook, Book 3, Op. 23: IV. Prestissmo
Children's Notebook, Book 3, Op. 23: V. Allegretto quasi andantino
Children's Notebook, Book 3, Op. 23: VI. Lento funebre
Children's Notebook, Book 3, Op. 23: VII. Andantino semplice
21 Easy Pieces, Op. 34: No. 1. Merry March
21 Easy Pieces, Op. 34: No. 2. The Nightingale
21 Easy Pieces, Op. 34: No. 3. The Skipping Rope
21 Easy Pieces, Op. 34: No. 4. Baba-Yaga
21 Easy Pieces, Op. 34: No. 5. Playmates
21 Easy Pieces, Op. 34: No. 6. The Sick Doll
21 Easy Pieces, Op. 34: No. 7. A Tin Soldier
21 Easy Pieces, Op. 34: No. 8. A Grandmother's Fairy Tale
21 Easy Pieces, Op. 34: No. 9. The Shepherd Boy
21 Easy Pieces, Op. 34: No. 10. Hide and Seek
21 Easy Pieces, Op. 34: No. 11. Old Man Frost
21 Easy Pieces, Op. 34: No. 12. Melancholy Waltz
21 Easy Pieces, Op. 34: No. 13. The Goldfish
21 Easy Pieces, Op. 34: No. 14. Petrushka's Lament
21 Easy Pieces, Op. 34: No. 15. Game of Tag
21 Easy Pieces, Op. 34: No. 16. The Little Ball
21 Easy Pieces, Op. 34: No. 17. Lullaby for a Doll
21 Easy Pieces, Op. 34: No. 18. Bear Cubs
21 Easy Pieces, Op. 34: No. 19. Little Rabbits
21 Easy Pieces, Op. 34: No. 20. The Gray Wolf
21 Easy Pieces, Op. 34: No. 21. Good Night
Can-Can

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