Lebrecht’s Album of the Week – Mieczyslaw Weinberg: Cello Concerto (CPO)


This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)

  • CPO
  • User Ratings (0 Votes)

There are certain composers whom I need to hear on a regular basis or I suffer withdrawal pangs. Not Mahler, who is so well lodged in memory that I can call any theme to mind without effort. Nor Beethoven, who I’m living with all year after breakfast. But definitely Shostakovich, and not far behind his close friend Weinberg.  If I go a month without their company, I feel the loss.

Weinberg (1919-96), a Polish-Jewish refugee in Stalin’s Russia, was fortunate to survive the 1948 purge in which is father-in-law was murdered. He wrote the cello concerto in 1956 during the thaw of Khrushchev’s Stalin denunciation and had it premiered by Mstislav Rostropovich, Russia’s foremost cellist. It’s a folkloric work rippled with Jewish themes and a second movement that anticipates Fiddler on the Roof. In the thick of Soviet antisemitism, Weinberg shouted out his Jewishness.

The British cellist Raphael Wallfisch plays the concerto with big-toned empathy, engagingly interwoven with the Kristiansand Symphony, conductor Lukas Borowicz. The major discovery on this album is a concertino for cello and orchestra which Weinberg wrote in 1948 and had to withdraw for fear of Stalinist retribution. Unheard until 2017, it’s a quiet meditation on overtly Jewish tunes from a culture recently ravaged by Hitler and now persecuted by Stalin. Familiar as I am with the cello concerto, I’m inclined to think that the concertino is a stronger statement – more poignant, more gripping, more musical. Love Weinberg.


Sign on to the blogfeed: www.slippedisc.com

Visit the website: www.normanlebrecht.com

This page is also available in / Cette page est également disponible en: Francais (French)


About Author

Norman Lebrecht is a prolific writer on music and cultural affairs. His blog, Slipped Disc, is one of the most popular sites for cultural news. He presents The Lebrecht Interview on BBC Radio 3 and is a contributor to several publications, including the Wall Street Journal and The Standpoint. Visit every Friday for his weekly CD review // Norman Lebrecht est un rédacteur prolifique couvrant les événements musicaux et Slipped Disc, est un des plus populaires sites de nouvelles culturelles. Il anime The Lebrecht Interview sur la BBC Radio 3 et collabore à plusieurs publications, dont The Wall Street Journal et The Standpoint. Vous pouvez lire ses critiques de disques chaque vendredi.

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.