Weinberg: Symphony No. 12 — a fitting trubute

Album cover of Weinberg: Symphony No. 12


Mieczyslaw Weinberg
Symphony No. 12; the Golden Key
St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra
Vladimir Lande, conductor
Naxos

Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s 12th Symphony is subtitled “In Memoriam D. Shostakovich.” It was composed shortly after the death of his close friend and colleague and is a fitting tribute indeed. Weinberg incorporates many musical gestures of his late friend in this work, yet remains true to his own musical voice.

The symphony starts with a powerful angular unison figure that recalls similar passages in Shostakovich’s music. To my ears, many sections reminded me of Shostakovich’s 5th Symphony, alternating with his Op. 110 Chamber Symphony. But none of this is pastiche. The orchestration may echo Shostakovich, but the melodic and harmonic content is Weinberg’s. An effective tribute to a fellow composer.

By contrast, the second work on the disc, the Golden Key is a lighthearted, upbeat ballet suite. Sometimes the melodies go a little off the rails (like early Prokofiev), but that just adds a little spice. The music is very Russian in character, and Weinberg’s vibrant orchestration at times sounds dazzling.

Vladimir Lande and the St. Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra turn in solid performances of these works. Lande doing a particularly effective job of bringing out the authentic emotion of the symphony.

This is the third Naxos release of Weinberg symphonies with this ensemble. I hope there are more to follow.

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