Weinberg Piano Works

Time for a re-evaluation of the piano music of this rediscovered composer

Author: 
David Fanning

Weinberg Piano Works

  • (3) Children's Notebooks, Notebook No 1
  • (3) Children's Notebooks, Notebook No 2
  • (3) Children's Notebooks, Notebook No 3
  • Sonata for Piano No. 1

It is 15 years since Murray McLachlan’s pioneering accounts of Weinberg’s six sonatas and cycles of shorter pieces appeared on the much-lamented Olympia label. Though the piano was Weinberg’s instrument, it would be idle to claim that the music he composed for it is on the level of his quartets or his symphonies. Nevertheless, someone was bound to take up the challenge again sooner or later, and Elisaveta Blumina’s achievement is to provoke a re‑evaluation of this corner of the Weinberg repertoire. Where previously one might have suspected the 21-year-old composer’s debut sonata of a degree of formal and textural miscalculation, Blumina’s superior clarity and agility reveal it as a bold, uncompromising statement, its Prokofiev‑isms perhaps not yet entirely digested, but still well on the way to producing an individual pianistic voice. I for one felt I was hearing the piece properly for the first time. The sonata was composed two years before Weinberg’s first encounter with Shostakovich and the Children’s Notebooks a year or two afterwards. The musical language here is more moderated and more focused but the expressive and technical range is far wider than the title would suggest. Blumina crafts each piece with care and insight.

Recording quality is bright without being glassy, and although CPO does not announce this new disc as “Vol 1”, I would be more than happy if it proved to be the beginning of a cycle (another complete survey, comprising all Weinberg’s solo piano works on four discs, is soon to appear on Naxos, so competition is hotting up).

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