In 2014 ECM New Series featured Kremerata Baltica in a widely-praised album dedicated to the music of Mieczysław Weinberg. Now Gidon Kremer’s orchestra continues the story, turning its attention to the four chamber symphonies completed in the last decade of the Polish-born Soviet composer’s life. The arc of the album – recorded in Vienna and in Riga in June 2015 – also embraces a striking new arrangement, by Gidon Kremer and Kremerata percussionist Andrey Pushkarev, of Weinberg’s early Piano Quintet.
In his recollection of Mieczysław Weinberg in the liner notes, fellow composer Alexander Raskatov speaks of the “incredible renaissance” of Weinberg’s music, a revival which might well have amazed its author. Since his death in 1996, Weinberg’s work has been widely re-evaluated, with Gidon Kremer and Kremeratica Baltica have been among the artists calling for broader recognition for a composer who “strongly opposed any division of music into avant-garde and ‘arrière-garde’, as Raskatov remembers.
The Kremer/Pushkarev arrangement of the Piano Quintet op. 18 extends the creative spirit of Weinberg’s reworkings of his own material: each of his chamber symphonies developed earlier music and took it to new places. The kernel of the Chamber Symphony No. 1 (1986) can be found in Weinberg’s Second String Quartet, written 45 years earlier. “He continued the process,” writes David Fanning in the liner notes, “by reworking his Third String Quartet as Chamber Symphony No. 2 and his Fifth String Quartet as Chamber Symphony No. 3. These were all rehabilitations of previously unpublished works. Finally he added the profoundly introspective Chamber Symphony No. 4, his last completed opus, based not on a string quartet but on several of his late works,”
Weinberg’s chamber symphonies are, Gidon Kremer says, “the most personal reflections of a great composer on his own life and his generation, like a diary of the most dramatic period of the 20th century.”
The violinist considers the present Weinberg recording “the most valuable landmark” in Kremerata Baltica’s discography, and the album is released in time for a major tour celebrating both the orchestra’s 20th anniversary as well as its leader’s 70th birthday. Weinberg’s compositions form an integral part of the orchestra’s concert repertoire in the current season. (ECM Records)