Mieczyslaw Weinberg (1919-1996)
Acte Préalable AP0209

Barbara Trojanowska, violin
Elzbieta Tyszecka, piano
rec. June 2008 (No. 3) and March 2010 (No.4)
Filharmonia Lódzka, Sala Kamerlan im. Henryka Czyza

Rel. 2010



Violin Sonata No. 3 Op.37 (1947) [24:56]

Violin Sonata No. 4 Op.39 (1947) [19:20]

Companies are beginning to fill gaps in Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s (Moishei Vainberg's) discography, and the violin sonatas are notable recipients of an increasing number of recordings. This disc couples the Third and Fourth sonatas, which is logical enough as they were completed in 1947, but it makes for very short timing at 44 minutes, with pretty well half the disc going spare.
The Third Sonata cleverly interweaves material and balances emotive states with astute judgement, so that you’re never quite sure as to the work’s genuine temper. This was something of a Weinberg speciality, as much in his music as in his life. The long piano introduction to the central Andantino threatens to turn into a solo sonata but eventually the violin enters, taken very high – another Weinberg trait – which is a test of intonation and bow changes. Weinberg provides formal balance to this movement by allowing the fiddle a soliloquy of its own. Powerful piano writing animates the finale, thwacking pizzicatos soon accompanying it. Again the violin goes high in the cadential passage, Weinberg’s need for extremes of tone and timbre being paramount, before the poignant end.
The Fourth Sonata dates from 1947. It was dedicated to Leonid Kogan, the rising star in the firmament of Soviet violinists but who was still at the time a student, so it’s possible the dedication may have come later. In any case it had to wait until 1968 for its actual premiere. The sonata is in three movements of which the first is by far the longest – in fact it’s much longer than the other two movements combined, which gives the work an unusual topography. It opens with sepulchral polyphony in the piano introduction, before the austerely lyric violin enters. Weinberg takes the violin extremely high in post-Szymanowski fashion. The central movement is an urgent march, vital and exciting, and which prefigures a double-stopping cadenza. The finale is meditative, reflective and moonlight-still.
Competition in the fourth comes via Stefan and Andreas Kirpal’s 2007 recording on CPO 777 456-2. They couple it with the Fifth sonata and the Three Pieces. There is also Yuri Kalnits and Michael Csányi-Wills’s recording on Toccata [TOCC0007]. They cannily include the op.12 First Sonata and the solo sonata (Kilnits), neither previously recorded. Both these discs are part of planned sonata series from their respective companies. There is also, more pertinently perhaps in this particular respect, direct competition in respect of the 3rd and 4th sonatas from Jascha Nemtsov and Kolja Blacher on Hänssler HAN093190. They add Shostakovich’s op.134 sonata. I’m inclined to plump for the Hänssler pairing for performances, and for adding a relevant coupling, given Weinberg’s close friendship with Shostakovich. I also prefer the Kirpal brothers’ performance of the Fourth.
Jonathan Woolf