MIECZYSLAW WEINBERG - Symphony No. 8, Op. 83

Buy CD from Amazon
MIECZYSLAW WEINBERG - Symphony No. 8, Op. 83 - Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir - Antoni Wit (Conductor) - 747313287376 - Released: February 2013 - Naxos 8.572873

This is a world première recording of an important work written 50 years ago in 1964, which is always great news in itself, as it allows everyone the opportunity to hear a symphonic work which could have been destined to obscurity. Mieczyslaw Weinberg's Symphony No. 8, Op. 83 was this composer's first totally choral and solo vocal symphony, with each of its 10 movements set to various segments of the epic poem Polish Flowers by Julian Tuwim. Don't be fooled by its suggestive title, as these texts reflect on life in Poland between the two world wars. (It would have been nice of Naxos to include an English translation of the poems with the booklet notes, to help us further understand the expressive impetus behind the music. Unfortunately that is not the case, but one can at least follow the Polish text here). For example, the first movement Podmuch wiosny (Gust of Spring), does not, in any way, evoke the sense of hope and renewal associated with the arrival of spring. It rivals, if not surpasses, some of Dmitri Shostakovich's darkest and most desolate moments in its expressive power. And this dark and ominous shroud hangs, like an umbrella, over the whole symphony, culminating here and there in great outbursts of anger and despair.

As always, in this ongoing Naxos coverage of Weinberg's symphonic output, every aspect of this production is of the highest calibre. Tenor Rafal Bartminski, soprano Magdalena Dobrowolska, alto Ewa Marciniec, the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir and conductor Antoni Wit all come together to fully realize this work's potential and to convey its profound emotional weight.

A solid surge of interest in Mieczyslaw Weinberg's music has been growing steadily over the last 15 years or so. And it stands to reason. His music bears witness to a period of the 20th century that has left an indelible mark on humanity, and as such, leaves an indelible mark on our minds.

Jean-Yves Duperron - April 2013