WEINBERG: Symphony No. 18; Trumpet Concerto – Balio, trumpet/ St. Petersburg Chamber Choir/ St. Petersburg State Sym. Orch./ Vladimir Lande – Naxos

WEINBERG: Symphony No. 18; Trumpet Concerto – Andrew Balio, trumpet/ St. Petersburg Chamber Choir/ St. Petersburg State Sym. Orch./ Vladimir Lande – Naxos 8.573190, 1:10:26 (5/27/14) ****:

Weinberg is not a name most mainstream classical listeners will know, but in fact he is considered the third great Russian composer, after Shostakovich and Prokofiev. He is sometimes referred to as Vainberg and he wrote a lot of symphonies. This Naxos CD is one of a continuing series of performances with Vladimir Lande and the St. Petersburg State Symphony.

The Trumpet Concerto which begins the disc is amongst Weinberg’s most substantial and diverse works from the 1960s. Ranging in effects from pointillist modernism to the grotesque and sardonic, it was described by Shostakovich as a ‘symphony for trumpet and orchestra’. Naxos gives us a very fine recording with depth and a solid soundstage. I thought the music opened up nicely listening in Dolby PLIIx-derived 5.1 sound.

The disc also features the Symphony No. 18. Weinberg’s 18th is the centerpiece of his symphonic trilogy On the Threshold of War, which focusses on the traumas of the Soviet Union in World War II and stands as one of the most significant creations of his later years. Using texts by important Soviet poets, the work reflects on war with eloquent expressive power. It does have echoes of Shostakovich, but Weinberg creates his own unique sound which is rich and emotive.

The symphony is played in four continuous movements, with the first movement being purely orchestral. The remaining movements feature the St. Petersburg Chamber Choir. The symphony is beautifully recorded, with an ethereal blend between the instruments and voices. The soundstage is robust and the orchestra dynamics are faithfully reproduced.

I have to salute Naxos for their extensive Weinberg series, of which this current disc is an excellent example.

—Mel Martin

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