The Polish-born Soviet composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg is receiving something of a reappraisal from the Western musical world. While not as well-known as other Soviet era composers, such as Shostakovich and Myaskovsky, his music shares many aspects with those contemporaries. The third volume of Weinberg’s string quartets from the Arcadia Quartet features two substantial pieces, Quartets numbers 4 and 16, that provide an excellent overview of Weinberg’s oeuvre.
They come from opposite ends of Weinberg’s career, the Fourth from the end of World War II, and the Sixteenth, his penultimate quartet, from 1981. The Fourth has an almost congenial character, reflecting Weinberg’s newfound optimism arriving in Moscow. The Sixteenth betrays the influences of Eastern European folk music, tinged by a modernist edge that perhaps demonstrates Weinberg’s awareness of musical trends outside the USSR. The performance from the Arcadia Quartet and the recording quality are wonderful, featuring cohesive ensemble playing and the expected excellence of the Chandos label. Highly recommended to connoisseurs of the string quartet genre.
– James Nightingale