Weinberg Symphony 18 contemplates war and loss

Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s 18th symphony is the final part of a symphonic trilogy, “On the Threshold of War.” Symphony No. 18, subtitled “War — there is no word more cruel” isn’t so much an anti-war statement as it is an honest portrayal of the emotional depletion felt by the survivors of conflict — even if their victors. Overall, the work is quiet, expressing deeply-felt sorrow and loss; elegiac rather than maudlin.

Weinberg’s symphony uses Russian poetry quite effectively. “He was buried in the Earth,” the text of the third movement is set as a simple chorale, very Russian in character — appropriate for this poem about the death of a common foot soldier. The third movement adapts a Russian folksong that carries an undertone of disquiet before splintering into  a kaleidoscopic fugue. In the final movement, the chorus sings the poem “War — there is no word more cruel,” and the work ends with not a bang, nor whimper, but rather a calm acceptance of war’s cost.

The Trumpet Concerto provides welcome emotional balance to the album. To my ears, the work uses some of Prokofiev’s “wrong-note” technique, with seemingly simple melodies and harmonies not going quite the direction one expects. Trumpet soloist Andrew Balio plays with clear, full sound. Attacks are consistently clean, and the phrasing smooth and expressive. This concerto imbues the trumpet with a little bit of attitude, and Balio delivers.
Mieczyslaw Weinberg: Symphony No. 18; Trumpet Concerto
Andrew Balio, trumpet; St. Petersburg Chamber Choir; St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra; Vladimir Lande, conductor
Naxos

More Recent Posts

  • New Blues News – 8/4/2015

    New Blues News – 8/4/2015 Billy Iuso – Overstanding (Self-produced): New Orleans born and based vocalist / songwriter /  guitarist / keyboardist Iuso is forging his own way with a strong foundation from his affiliation with the NOLA heritage.  According to John Swenson of Offbeat, this disc shows “his growth as a musician that this […]

  • Aug 8 Gather ‘Round: Greensky Bluegrass (2015)

    Gather ‘Round each Saturday night from 8-9 for WTJU Folk‘s concert series; both archived and live. There will be shows from The Prism Coffeehouse and VA Folklife archives mixed in with some from our announcers’ own libraries. And you never know when a live concert might pop up!  91.1 FM around Charlottesville, 102.9 FM down […]

  • Paul Lansky – Contemplating Weather

    The more I hear Paul Lansky’s post-serial music, the more I like it. This new release features three such works: Contemplating Weather for chorale and 11 instruments; Travel Diary for percussion duo; and It All Adds Up for piano duo. Contemplating Weather has what I would describe as a post-tonal Copland character to it. The harmonies are very modal […]

  • Smokey & The Mirror and The Honey Dewdrops on Lambeth Live, Aug 7

    Coming up August 7, Smokey & The Mirror and The Honey Dewdrops will put on a rare co-bill edition of Lambeth Live, and you are invited!  Smokey & The Mirror will put on the first set, followed by The Honey Dewdrops.  And as a special treat, they will perform the final set together. Lambeth Live […]

  • Ann Sexton Interview 2/27/2012

    South Carolina Soul diva Ann Sexton talks about her career in ’70s Soul. You can download the interview here or stream it live below:

  • Harpeth Rising “Shifted” to Folk & Beyond, Aug 6

    Chamberfolk trio Harpeth Rising is currently in the midst of a tour around the United States and Europe in support of their upcoming album, “Shifted”.  They found time to stop by WTJU a few weeks back, and Folk & Beyond will air some of that visit this Thursday, August 6, from 4-6 pm (edt).  Harpeth […]