The Quatuor Danel’s World Premiere of Weinberg’s String Quartet No. 3

Charles T. Downey reviews the Quatuor Danel’s Sunday afternoon concert at the Phillips Collection, a performance of the music of Mieczysław Weinberg and Dmitri Shostakovich that included the world premiere of Weinberg’s String Quartet No. 3:

The first movement pulsated with an obsessive moodiness, excepting some quieter moments in the middle. In the second movement, the unison playing of the second violinist, violist, and cellist was intense, with first violinist Marc Danel keening in alternation with it. Second violinist Gilles Millet had a sweet, more rarified sound when he took over that lament theme, matched by violist Vlad Bogdanas. The lovely fugue of the third movement, much of it played with mutes on, was based on a carefree subject betraying little of the cynical undercutting one might hear from Shostakovich.

The French string quartet follows the National Symphony Orchestra and Gidon Kremer’s January concert spotlighting Weinberg’s works, as well as Pro Musica Hebraica’s decade-long efforts to bring recognition to the Polish composer as one of last century’s greatest forgotten musical voices.

Read the rest of Downey’s review at Washington Classical Review.

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Evgeny Kissin Gets Married

Last Saturday, the great classical pianist Evgeny Kissin wed childhood friend Karina Arzumanova of Prague. Pro Musica Hebraica wishes the couple happiness.

(Via Slipped Disc, which has a lovely photo of the couple.)

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Vienna Celebrates the Blue Danube Waltz

(Via Norman Lebrecht)

Johann Strauss’ Blue Danube Waltz was first performed at the swimming-pool-turned-concert-hall (Dianabad) in Vienna’s “Matzo Island” (Mazzesinsel) in 1867. Leopoldstadt mayor Uschi Lichtenegger recently spoke on occasion of its 150th anniversary, celebrating the waltz’s Jewish roots. Read more at the Slipped Disc.

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Weinberg Finally Gains Full Recognition

On Thursday, the National Symphony Orchestra spotlighted last century’s greatest forgotten musical voices, the Polish composer Mieczysław Weinberg (1919-1996).

As Anne Midgette notes in her Washington Post review of the Kennedy Center concert, the NSO was joined by Latvian classical violinist Gidon Kremer, who “arrived at the NSO as the soloist in a concerto by a composer whose music the NSO had never played before.” Kremer is now “one of the composer’s most ardent champions,” writes Midgette.

Indeed, in a recent profile of Kremer, the New York Times explain that the Russian-trained virtuoso has been on a mission to discover and champion hidden 20th-century masters. On January 27, ECM New Series released recordings by Kremer and Kremerata of all four Weinberg chamber symphonies, along with a premiere recording of Weinberg’s early Piano Quintet of 1944.

These great musical achievements follow nearly a decade of Pro Musica Hebraica’s successful efforts to bring recognition to the great Soviet Jewish composer works through live performances of his masterpieces.

In our fall 2008 concert, Lost and Found: Jewish Musical Treasures from Eastern Europe, the ARC Ensemble of Toronto performed Weinberg’s rare wartime works. (See the full program and listen to the live concert recording here.)

Then, in our fall 2011 concert — The Last Romantics: Jewish Composers of Interwar Europe — Jascha Nemtsov & Friends played Weinberg’s famous and beloved “Piano Trio,” now widely regarded as a recovered classic of twentieth-century chamber music.

Weinberg is considered among great composers of the Soviet Union alongside Sergei Prokofiev and Dmitri Shostakovich, whom became Weinberg’s close friend and artistic partner after recognizing the Polish émigré’s huge talent. When Weinberg was arrested by Soviet police, Shostakovich adopted Weinberg’s daughter and personally appealed to Stalin for his friend’s release. (Read more about Weinberg’s remarkable life here.)

Pro Musica Presents the ARC Ensemble of Toronto: “Lost and Found: Jewish Musical Treasures from Eastern Europe” — November 18th, 2008 [Click image to enlarge]

Pro Musica Hebraica 2008-2009 Season Brochure [Click image to enlarge]









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Reviving the Music of Jewish Berlin

Semer Records, a label started by devoted to publishing the music of Jewish Berlin, survived just six years before the Nazis burned its records, murdered most of the contributing artists, and sent its founder, Hirsch Lewin, to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. For decades, it was assumed that the music of Semer Records vanished in the ashes of Kristallnacht.

But as Jordan Kutzik writes in The Forward, the music has been preserved. And thanks to a new group of Jewish musicians called the Semer Ensemble, audiences can once again hear the remarkably cosmopolitan sounds of Jewish Berlin.

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