Vainberg Chamber Works
The fourth volume of Olympia's series devoted to Moishei Vainberg comprises recordings made as long ago as 1963 and 1976. The former, of the Piano Quintet, does full justice to the often demanding range of textures, which includes densely packed chords and the aloof, widely spaced spread of sound which Vainberg avowedly learnt from his mentor Shostakovich. It is in many ways an engaging work, expertly written and played with great address by the composer himself. He is a sympathetic artist, even when one has set aside the appalling sufferings to which he and his family were subjected by both Nazis and Communists. To survive so much and to retain such creative energy compels admiration. It does not consistently compel more, for not always does he seem to control his material with the magisterial command of Shostakovich, nor is the material itself always as beguiling.
If the Piano Quintet may seem to be more rewarding for the surprising range of invention (which includes a wild Irish fiddle), the String Quartet gains for its greater compactness. It draws close to dodecaphonic techniques which had become more possible by 1976, and perhaps the demands of the method helped concentration. It is worth several hearings, and though less immediately intriguing and less eccentric than the Quintet, it has rather more substance. The performance is admirable.
Vainberg is a remarkable figure, he deserves this attention from a record company, and deserves the curiosity of Western listeners who have little other chance of coming to know his music.'