East-West Chamber Orchestra completes Weinberg series in fine style

This release completes Naxos’ cycle of Mieczyslaw Weinberg Chamber Symphonies. The East-West Chamber ORchestra released Nos. 1 and 3 back in 2019. They conclude with Nos. 2 and 4.

The level of musicianship in the East-West Chamber Orchestra is quite high. Its members are an international group of concertmasters and soloists. In my review of their first Weinberg release, I said it was just about the best-sounding string orchestra in the Naxos stable. This release reinforces that opinion.

The ensemble plays with both precision and fire. Weinberg’s roiling emotions were sometimes barely contained in his music. We hear that anger burst through at times on this release.

Weinberg’s second chamber symphony was revamped from an earlier string quartet. To my ears, it had a similar character to Shostakovich’s Op. 110. The massed strings thicked the lines and made more complex harmonies possible. Yet it still had the feel of a quartet.

The Chamber Symphony No. 4 was Weinberg’s final completed composition. Written for string orchestra, clarinet, and triangle, it’s a work of concentrated emotional turmoil. As the work built in intensity, I heard resemblances to Shostakovich.

That’s not surprising. Shostakovich was Weinberg’s mentor and friend. What was surprising was that I was also reminded of Bernhard Hermann. As in Alfred Hitchock’s “Psycho” intensity.

I was hoping the East-West Chamber Orchestra would complete this set. It took a while, but I wasn’t disappointed. It was definitely worth the wait.

Mieczyslaw Weinberg: Chamber Symphonies No. 2 and 4
East-West Chamber Orchestra; Rostislav Krimer, conductor
Naxos 8.57210

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