Weinberg: String Quartets Nos. 14 & 15 - Three Pal

Album cover art for upc 5902176502683
Label: CD Accord
Catalog: ACD268
Format: COMPACT DISC

Freszel, Joanna; Silesian Quartet

The late 1970s were not a particularly happy time for Mieczyslaw Weinberg (Pol. Wajnberg). 1975 brought the death of Dmitri Shostakovich, to whose kindness and friendship Weinberg owed a lot for more than three decades. Several of the dedicated performers of Weinberg’s music had emigrated, and those who stayed in the Soviet Union presented his works less and less frequently. In the face of such adversities, Weinberg nevertheless continued to compose, and in 1977 he returned to the string quartet genre. The String Quartet No. 14 consists of five movements played attacca as one whole and only marked with metronomic indications. Weinberg’s String Quartet No. 14 was most likely never performed in the composer’s lifetime. The first documented performance was given by Quatuor Danel in 2007 in Manchester. Despite this, less than half a year after writing the last note of this quartet, Weinberg began to compose his Fifteenth, which it took him two winter months to complete. This composition takes the unusual form of a suite made up of as many as nine movements, likewise only marked with metronomic indications. The mirrored motifs, the character of the 5th movement, and a finale that refers back to the previous movements – made some commentators speak of Bela Bartók’s influence, and indeed he may partly have inspired Weinberg in his work on String Quartet No. 15, dedicated to four young instrumentalists who were the first to play Bartók’s works in the Soviet Union. In September 1980 they were the first to play Weinberg’s Fifteenth. Borodin String Quartet, in its turn, is implicated in the origin of Three Palms. In 1977, the ensemble was preparing a recording of Arnold Schoenberg’s String Quartet No. 2, in the last two movements of which the quartet is joined by a female singer. This concept must have inspired Weinberg, since in the autumn of 1977 he wrote a piece for precisely the same performing forces.

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