Arcadia Quartet – Weinberg – String Quartets, Vol. 1 (2021) [FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

Arcadia Quartet – Weinberg – String Quartets, Vol. 1 (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:08:19 minutes | 1,13 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Bookelt, Front Cover | © Chandos

The seventeen string quartets of Weinberg span nearly half a century, from his student days in Warsaw to the end of his career in Moscow, and show his development as a composer more clearly than his work in any other genre. The Second Quartet, composed in 1939 – 40 whilst studying in Minsk, was dedicated to his mother and sister, who he would later learn had not survived the German invasion of Poland. Quartet No. 5, of 1945, was the first in which he added titles to each movement, and reflects the influence of Shostakovich over the young composer. The final quartet in this programme – No. 8 – was written in 1959 and dedicated to the Borodin Quartet. For many years the best-known of Weinberg’s quartets in the west, this single-movement work is divided into three sections with a coda. The Arcadia Quartet is a passionate advocate for these quartets, writing: ‘[Weinberg’s] music is like a glow of light surrounded by the darkness of the unknown, and it quickly became a goal of ours to attempt to dilute these shadows. With every recording and every live performance of his music, we intend to shine some light on this wide-ranging, profound phenomenon, which has remained overlooked for so long, and we hope that, with time, Mieczysław Weinberg will take his rightful place in the history of music.’

It’s strange to think that, even as recently as five years ago, the overwhelming majority of even those working in classical music had had little or no contact with the music of Mieczysław Weinberg (1919-1996). Yet now, thanks especially to the work of Gidon Kremer (most recently partnering with Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra on DG for a magnificent recording of symphonies 2 and 21), Weinberg feels almost everywhere. Enjoyably so too, given the eloquence with which his Polish-accented, Jewish folk and Shostakovich-esque (but not) language speaks to us. So it was only a matter of time before quartet cycles emerged to give the Silesian Quartet’s existing strong offering its first serious competition.

Weinberg’s seventeen string quartets span half a century, the first dating from 1937 when he was just eighteen and still self-taught, and the final one penned in 1986 at the end of his composing career. On to the Arcadia Quartet, and while they aren’t presenting the quartets consecutively, this first volume does stick to the early end of his career: No. 2 in G major was written in 1939 and 1940 in Minsk, when he was a twenty-year-old composition student; then No. 5 in B-flat major dates from 1945 when he’d settled in Russia, and No. 8 from 1959. The quartet sound itself is a bright, polished one which brings a wonderful shine and luminosity to the lucid textures of No. 2, and a poised insistence to keening, elegiac moments such as the dark opening Adagio of No. 8, or the improvisatory opening violin solo of No. 5’s fourth movement – to which the cloaked, flute-like tonal quality from the second violin solo then serves as an ear-pricking foil. Polish doesn’t mean an unwillingness to get down and dirty though. For instance there’s often an invigoratingly peasanty barb to their attack throughout No. 5’s Scherzo, which overall is an edge-of-the-seat-exciting reading for the way, as things become increasingly whirlingly madcap, they hold onto technical precision alongside the fire. Essentially, these are readings that will throw up fresh qualities and colours to admire with each listen, and they bode very well indeed for the volumes to come. © Charlotte Gardner

Tracklist

01. Arcadia Quartet – Weinberg: String Quartet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 3: I. Allegro
02. Arcadia Quartet – Weinberg: String Quartet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 3: II. Andante
03. Arcadia Quartet – Weinberg: String Quartet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 3: III. Allegretto
04. Arcadia Quartet – Weinberg: String Quartet No. 2 in G Major, Op. 3: IV. Presto
05. Arcadia Quartet – Weinberg: String Quartet No. 5 in B-Flat Major, Op. 27: I. Melodie. Andante sostenuto
06. Arcadia Quartet – Weinberg: String Quartet No. 5 in B-Flat Major, Op. 27: II. Humoreske. Andantino
07. Arcadia Quartet – Weinberg: String Quartet No. 5 in B-Flat Major, Op. 27: III. Scherzo. Allegro molto
08. Arcadia Quartet – Weinberg: String Quartet No. 5 in B-Flat Major, Op. 27: IV. Improvisation. Lento
09. Arcadia Quartet – Weinberg: String Quartet No. 5 in B-Flat Major, Op. 27: V. Serenade. Moderato con moto
10. Arcadia Quartet – Weinberg: String Quartet No. 8 in C Major, Op. 66: Adagio
11. Arcadia Quartet – Weinberg: String Quartet No. 8 in C Major, Op. 66: Allegretto
12. Arcadia Quartet – Weinberg: String Quartet No. 8 in C Major, Op. 66: Doppio più lento

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