Weinberg’s 21st symphony is not a work you can simply listen to. It presents itself as Weinberg’s autobiography: his escape from the Warsaw Ghetto, his arrival and stay in the Soviet Union and his fight with the authorities and the memories. The structure of the symphony is incredibly complex – irreverently one could say that it is unbalanced, because all kinds of things happen in it. Chopin (‘Ballade in g’, ‘Marche Funèbre’), Mahler’s ‘Mutter, ach Mutter’ from his Des Knaben Wunderhorn, a klezmer tune carried by a solo clarinet that turns into a Requiem.
However, aren’t our memories like that? Disordered, one emotion evoking another? Weinberg dedicated his ‘Kaddish’ (one of the most important prayers in the Jewish liturgy that is pronounced after the death of a parent) – symphony from 1991 to the victims of the Warsaw ghetto. Distressing. Just like the life of Weinberg himself.
But do not forget the second symphony! The Adagio is an eleven-minute sadness that hurts so much that it can only lead to a satirical outburst in part three, the Allegretto. My God, what music. What a composer.
I can be brief on the performance. Brilliant. Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla confirms her reputation as one of the best young conductors of today. Under her leadership the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra sounds like I haven’t heard it in years, not since the very young and unknown Simon Rattle first took over the reins there. It is therefore gratifying that she has been awarded an exclusive contract with DG.
That she chose Weinberg’s Kaddish for her first recording on the ‘yellow label’ is significant. Knowing her (and her preferences) we can expect exciting recordings of unknown and lesser known works. Go, Mirga, go!
Translated with http://www.DeepL.com/Translator