Elisaveta Blumina perceptively performs Weinberg sonatas

This is the third Weinberg recording from pianist Elisaveta Blumina on CPO, and her first as a soloist. Blumina’s sympathetic (and informed) performances get to the heart of Weinberg’s music. Weinberg suffered great emotional trauma, and it’s released in his music.

To me, Weinberg’s Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 8 in A minor almost sounds like he’s channeling Prokofiev’s Classical Symphony. Superficially it has the simplicity and classical structure of Haydn. But the work also has the ironic twists and turns only a 20th-century composer could deliver.

The Piano Sonatina op. 49bis 1950s reflects the reality of composing in a Social Realist world. Like the Sonata No. 2, there’s a charming superficial simplicity to the music. The opening reminded me of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. But once things get going, Weinberg pushes the limits of tonality as far as he can.

Weinberg also wrote his Piano Sonata No. 4, Op. 56 in B minor in this same period. The composer had just returned from three months in political “rehabilitation.” The work seems sparser than the Sonatina (written before his arrest). Weinberg favors modal harmonies in this work. It gives the sonata a more 20th Century sound and stays safely away from chromatic harmonies and tonal clusters.

As a composer in Stalinist Russia, Weinberg had to produce appealing, accessible music to survive. Preceptive performers like Blumina bring out the intense emotions Weinberg could bury but not eradicate from his music.

Revealing those buried emotions is what makes Elisaveta Blumina’s performances so powerfully expressive.

Mieczyslaw Weinberg: Piano Sonatas opp. 8, 49bis, & 56
Elisaveta Blumina, piano
CPO

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