Vladimir Lande / St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra

Weinberg: Symphony No. 12; The Golden Key

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The symphonies of Mieczyslaw Weinberg are appearing with increasing frequency on Western concert programs, and the reasons he was a favored follower of Dmitry Shostakovich are abundant. For one, he mastered the Mahlerian type of orchestration often used by Shostakovich in his late works. That is evident in the beautifully orchestrated Symphony No. 12, subtitled "In memoriam D. Shostakovich." The work was composed in 1979 and given its premiere by Shostakovich's son, Maxim; it was one of a number of works composed to honor Shostakovich, who by that time was back to Soviet national hero status. The references to the older composer are clear enough, but in Shostakovich's works such devices as the D-S-C-H (D-E flat-C-B natural) motif have a specific function and referential value; here they seem to be parts of a kind of tour through Shostakovich's works. There's a lot to enjoy: the orchestration, the splendidly grim Adagio, the colorful ballet suite from The Golden Key (1944), which could fill the bill for a sparkling unknown Russian ballet score. But there may be better places to start with Weinberg: Symphony No. 19, Op. 142 ("Bright May") carries the seriousness with which Shostakovich also approached the devastation of World War II. Vladimir Lande and the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra also seem crisper in their performance of that work. For those already interested in Weinberg, this is a case study in the nature of his influence.

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