Mieczysław Weinberg (1919-1996): Concertino for cello op. 43bis; Fantasy for cello and orchestra op. 52; Chamber Symphony No. 4 Op. 153. Pieter Wispelwey, cello; Jean-Michel Charlier, clarinet; The Metamorphoses, direction: Raphaël Feye. 1 CD Evil Penguin Classic. Hardcover album, quadrilingual booklet richly illustrated with photographs of Peter de Bruyne’s recording and poetic illustration sessions. Additional digital content (recording video) accessible by QR code. Recorded from June 28 to July 1, 2021 at MC De Bijloke, Ghent (Belgium). Duration: 68:27
Pieter Wispelwey and the ensemble Les Métamorphoses sign a remarkable Weinberg album of colors and investment in the depth of sound.
The three works by Mieczysław Weinberg brought together in this album owe nothing to chance, since they had constituted the crowning achievement of a great weekend devoted at the end of 2019 in Brussels by the biennial Chamber Music for Europe on the occasion of the centenary of the birth of the composer. If the performance in concert had received all the praise from our colleague, the recording in the studio made in the summer of 2021 and proposed in this album combines the vitality and the unity that gives the experience of performance in public, with the intense care given to each note and inflection allowed by the long recording time.
the Cello concertino op. 43 bis, composed in 1948 as the cello concerto op. 43 (which was created by Rostropovitch in 1957) had been forgotten by all and was only discovered in 2016, 20 years after the composer’s death. It was then quickly recorded by cellist Marina Tarasova, who knew Weinberg, and released in 2018 by the courageous Saint Petersburg label Northern Flowers. The comparison of the two recordings is enlightening: where Russian musicians – like a Rostropovitch – keep emotion and klezmer accents at bay to better bring out the classicism of this music and relate it to all music Russian, Pieter Wispelwey and the musicians of the Metamorphoses go deeper into psychological exploration and work to restore – without sentimentality – the tragic substrate of the composer’s life (the flight from Nazism to then suffer the anti-Semitism of the Soviet state) . The result of this interpretative choice is a stronger emotional impact, albeit modest. It’s as if we gave Weinberg’s music a richer, more complex identity, one would dare say more present in the double sense of presence and topicality. A few years later, the Fantasy for cello and orchestra op. 52 is less lyrical and less immediately gripping than the Concertino, but she keeps these popular Polish accents and this finesse of writing which attracts attention.
The album concludes with Weinberg’s last work, the Chamber Symphony No. 4 op. 153. Like all mature pieces, the time has long since passed for immediacy and ease. But placed like this after the concertino and the Fancy, there is no rupture, simply an evolution. This continuity is also explained by the fact that these four chamber symphonies are themselves throwbacks, taking up compositions from his youth. They have been recorded in their entirety by Gidon Kremer and the Kremerata Baltica (ECM, 2017) and Rostislav Krimer and the East-West Chamber Orchestra (Naxos 2019 for the no. 1 and 3, and 2021 for n° 2 and 4), the second defending a more refined and poetic approach. Faced with these Latvian and Belarusian competitors who have for them the advantage of original cultural anchoring, the musicians of Les Métamorphoses invest Weinberg’s music with a Western European approach that feeds on a work on memory. and on history. Where Western versions of Shostakovich’s music in the 1950s to 80s might seem less inhabited than those on the other side of the Iron Curtain, this characteristic is not found with Weinberg, yet so close. Weinberg is a Polish, Slavic, Jewish, and Central European musician, and though he spent his adult life in the USSR, he never forgot his origins. From then on, a Dutch cellist, a Belgian conductor and ensemble developing a sensitive approach (the orchestra had recorded the beautiful disc Jewish destinies directed by Amaury de Closel in 2018, KMI) can bring a different and at least as relevant vision of this repertoire.
Let’s hope that this success – coupled with a luxurious book-like edition, with a hard cover and a thick, richly illustrated booklet – will give these performers the desire to continue to appropriate Weinberg’s music, because they bring depth and attraction to it. particular.
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