In the wake of the increased popularity of Shostakovich’s music (and rightly so), it did not take long for a reappraisal and rediscovery of music by his friend and protégée Mieczyslaw Weinberg (1919-1996). All of Weinberg’s quartets and piano music, and most of his 22 symphonies, are now available on disc, revealing him to be much more than Shostakovich-lite.

Weinberg

The two composers competed in a friendly contest of producing string quartets, but in terms of violin sonatas Weinberg was streets ahead with six, to Shostakovich’s one. This disc is the third in a series on the Toccata label of the complete violin sonatas, including three for solo violin. It contains Nos 3 and 6, and the Third Solo Sonata.

1947 was a difficult year for Soviet composers, including Weinberg (a Jew in exile), but the Third Violin Sonata of that year is remarkably gentle. Flowing lyricism graces the first and third movements, and although the central scherzo contains propulsive piano accompaniment figures and passages of pizzicato, it remains mellow in outlook. Sonata No 6 is a late work, and here Weinberg has created sparser textures. There is something archaic about the bell-like sonorities of the piano, adorning the typically clean, pure lines of the violin part. Kalnits and Csányi-Wills play these works to the manner born, capturing the composer’s pensive, contemplative musical world.

Kalnits also dispatches the Solo Sonata with flair. This 1979 work is well written; however I must admit that unaccompanied violin double-stopping soon wears out its welcome.

Listen on Apple Music

Composer: Weinberg
Works: Violin Sonatas Nos 3 & 6, Solo Violin Sonata No 3
Performers: Yuri Kalnits v, Michael Csányi-Wills p
Label: TOCCATA TOCC0096

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