WEINBERG:Chamber Symphony No. 2, Op. 147. Symphony No. 4,
SCNITTKE: Concerto for Piano and Strings. PROKOFIEV: Symphony No. 2
in D minor, Op. 40.
ANNA NETREBKO OPERA ARIAS
Record companies finally are beginning to investigate music of major Russian composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg (1919 - 1996). Several years ago S.G.S. reviewed a DGG issue of his Symphony No. 2 for string orchestra, Op. 30 (1946) and Symphony No. 21, Op. 152, "Kaddish" (1991) performed by violinist Gidon Kremer (violin), Kremerata Baltica,and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra ked by Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla. For detailed information about this major composer, check that REVIEW. This welcome Naxos disk offers two of his major works, Chamber Symphony No. 2 dating from 1987 scored for string orchestra and timpani, and Chamber Symphony No. 4 written in 1992, Weinberg's last completed work. which featured "a haunting chorale" throughout. This symphony is scored for string orchestra, clarinet and triangle(this is heard only for four minutes during the fin la movement. This fascinating 36-minute symphony has four movements with an overall tragic, reflective atmosphere, only broken by the lively second movement, The symphony is almost a clarinet concerto that focuses on reflective rather than virtuoso playing. It begins and ends quietly; this is a fascinating addition to the Weinberg discography. The excellent performance is by the same artists who performed the first Naxos chamber symphony CD, and the excellent clarinet soloist us Igor Fedosiev. Detailed program notes by Richard Whitehouse include comments by the composer's widow, Anna Weinberg in which she welcomes these recordings. . Highly recommended! When payed on a computer, there are everal misidentifications of tracks, not a major problem.
The Cleveland Orchestra now has their own label, issuing some of their live recordings on SACD. All are conducted by Franz Welser-Möst. This series began in 2019; this latest disk contains two rarities, Schnittke's Concerto for Piano and Strings with Yefim Bronfman as soloist from a concert in October 2020, and Prokofiev's Symphony No. 2 from concerts in January 2020. It is a large presentation, 8 inches square, with a 42-page booklet including many high quality color photos and profuse program notes. Bronfman originally was to play Beethoven's Concerto No. 2 but Covid caused cancellation of those performances. The famed pianist then learned the Schnitte concerto and at the performance all of the string players wore masks. The Orchestra is superb throughout, but sonically this is an odd release. It is advertised as SACD, but is not multi-channel, just stereo. Also it is strange that more music wasn't included; surely there is room, playing time for this disk is only 55 minutes.
Anna Netrebko's lastest disk is a collection of arias of Verdi, :Puccini, Cilea, Richard Strauss, Tchaikovsky and Wagner. She is accompanied by the LaScala Orchestra conducted by Riccardo Chaill, recordings made October 2020 and April 2021. She is no stranger to Strauss or Wagner. She has already recorded Strauss's Four Last Songs and some lieder, and her Elsa in Lohengrin from Dresden conducted by Christian Thielemann is available on DVD. On these new recordings she perhaps sounds a bit perfunctory, but her beautiful sound and technical ability are always apparent. Complete texts and translations are included. The cover shows Netrebko in a bizarre costume in an unidentified role. Apparently there is a video soon to be issued in the U.S. with staged performances of four of these arias.
R.E.B. (November 2021)