St. Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra / Alexander Titov

Wartime Music Vol. 5: Mieczyslaw Weinberg

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In this volume in Northern Flowers series of recordings released under the collective title 1941-1945 Wartime Music, conductor Alexander Titov and the St. Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra rise to the level of the music and turn in a pair of performances that are easily the most persuasive so far in this series. The disc's quality, however, is largely a result of its program, a pair of works by Mieczyslaw Weinberg: the digital premiere of his First Symphony from 1942, and only the third recording of his Cello Concerto from 1948. Weinberg's symphony, the first in a sequence of 19, is a combination of youthful audacity, with its lean textures and vivid colors, and thematic and structural innovations that show a deep appreciation of the symphonies of Shostakovich. It is a deeply felt and powerfully realized work, and Titov and his St. Petersburg players do it proud, though one does look forward to further recordings. Dmitry Khrychov's performance of the Cello Concerto, if not as authoritative as Rostropovich's classic 1964 recording, is still far more soulful and insightful, not to mention better played, than Marc Drobinsky's 1996 recording. The recordings for both works are close and more than a bit raw, but this does not altogether detract from the quality of the music or the performances.

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