Magazine article Gramophone

Weinberg: Symphony No 18, 'War-There Is No Word More Cruel'

Magazine article Gramophone

Weinberg: Symphony No 18, 'War-There Is No Word More Cruel'

Article excerpt

Weinberg

Symphony No 18, 'War--there is no word more cruel', Op 138 (a). Trumpet Concerto, Op 94 (b) (b) Andrew Balio tpt St Petersburg (a) Chamber Choir and State Symphony Orchestra / Vladimir Lande Naxos [B] 8 573190 (70' * DDD. T/t)

One of Weinberg's most Socialist Realist symphonies is here interestingly coupled with the most experimental of his six concertos. Admittedly, to characterise Symphony No 18 thus is to underplay both the complexity of all such labels and the musical resourcefulness of the work itself. The fragmentation of the third of its four movements is a gripping experience, for example, and the pacifist message that runs through the entire symphony--centrepiece of Weinberg's early-1980s 'War Trilogy'--is fired by a deeply rooted personal sense of outrage. Paradoxically, pacifism was one of the sins Weinberg was accused of in the supposedly peace-loving pre-glasnost Soviet Union.

Vladimir Lande and the St Petersburg State Symphony with the St Petersburg Chamber Choir here maintain the standard of their previous Weinberg recordings, which is to say that the depth of sound and the dramatic intensity of their Soviet counterparts are rarely matched. For example, on the premiere recording, Vladimir Fedoseyev takes a much gentler view of the 'Little Berry' folksong that begins the third movement; and while both approaches are viable, Fedoseyev's is far more attuned to the function of the song in Weinberg's second opera, The Madonna and the Soldier, a work that in many respects stands as godfather to the Symphony. …

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