Gidon Kremer / Yulianna Avdeeva / Giedré Dirvanauskaité

Mieczyslaw Weinberg: Chamber Music

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Composer Mieczysław Weinberg has increasingly often gained performances in the 21st century, mostly for his larger works (he wrote 22 symphonies). However, his oeuvre continues to yield worthwhile and rarely performed music, and the present set of chamber pieces offers a good example. They have been assembled by violinist Gidon Kremer, who has plenty of experience with Weinberg and is a persuasive interpreter. Here, he performs with cellist Giedré Dirvanauskaité and pianist Yulianna Avdeeva, and the readings are crisp and clean. The common line on Weinberg's music is that it is inspired by, or derivative of Shostakovich, depending on your perspective, and certainly one can hear the influence of the older composer here. The Violin Sonata No. 6, Op. 136bis, was written in 1982, after Shostakovich's death, but certainly reflects the decades of close cooperation between the two. Elsewhere, though, Weinberg's music has a positive note missing from that of Shostakovich, acidic except when he was absolutely forced not to be. The opening Three Pieces for violin and piano, written when Weinberg was 15 and not given an opus number, is an attractive piece of juvenilia from the years before the composer experienced the horrors of World War II; the finale, "Traum von einer Puppe" ("A Doll's Dream," sample this), is a piece on the edge of Romanticism that sounds nothing like Shostakovich. The strongest work is the Piano Trio in A minor, Op. 24, is a fully accomplished chamber work largely devoid of the grim quality of Shostakovich's wartime chamber works. The music, whether in a Shostakovich vein or not, is consistently absorbing, and the album is a good choice for Russian and Eastern European chamber collections.

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