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Piano Trio Op.24

Mieczyslaw Weinberg (b. 1919 - d. 1996)

Dmitri Sitovetsky

Dmitri Sitovetsky

Composer
Mieczyslaw Weinberg (b. 1919 - d. 1996)
Composition Year
1945
Work Movements
1. Präludium and Arie – Larghetto
2. Toccata - Allegro marcato
3. Poem - Moderato
4. Finale - Allegro moderato
Artists
Alexander Melnikov [piano], David Cohen [cello], Dmitri Sitovetsky [violin]

Programme Note Writer:
© Francis Humphrys

The music of Mieczyslaw Weinberg has featured regularly in our programmes so many of you will be aware of his extraordinary story. He came from a Jewish musical family in Warsaw in the newly independent Poland; he showed prodigious talent as a pianist at an early age and was accepted by the Warsaw Conservatoire when he was only 12. Intriguingly he was offered a chance to continue his studies in America but he put off the journey until too late. Instead he was driven East by the Nazi invasion in 1939, his parents sending him away with his sister, who, tragically, turned back and died with their parents.

After this Weinberg seemed to lead a charmed life. He made it to Red Army lines and went on to Minsk to continue his studies. His diploma concert took place the day before the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Mercifully Weinberg was considered unfit for military service due to his spinal deformation and was evacuated to Tashkent in faraway Uzbekistan, where he met and married Natalia Vovsi-Mikhoels, daughter of the famous actor Solomon Mikhoels. In 1943 he was called to Moscow by Shostakovich, who had been impressed by the score of Weinberg’s First Symphony, and remained there for the rest of his long life.

The Trio dates from 1945 just after this momentous period in Weinberg’s life and is dedicated to his wife Natalia. Shostakovich’s famous Second Piano Trio dates from the previous year and the similarity in their styles is obvious, both attempting a musical chronicle of the dramatic times they were living through. The similarity is most obvious in the pounding, ostinato-driven second movement. The Präludium  opens with monstrous chords announcing momentous and terrible events, the tension driven even harder by the violin’s impossibly high-lying theme. This gradually winds down and the gentle if edgy Aria is introduced that eventually drifts quietly into the renewed tensions of the wild marcato Toccata, a movement driven by biting strings and a hard-edged, angular piano that makes even some of Shostakovich’s Scherzos seem quite restrained.

The Poem opens with solo piano in the same vein until the music sinks to a strange duo of pizzicato violin with arco cello, before the full trio take up the sad tune. This gradually increases in intensity before slowly returning to the quiet string duo with roles reversed. The extraordinary Finale is outwardly a theme and variations but it somehow incorporates a full fugue (begun by the cello), a toccata and, finally, a recapitulation of the opening Präludium and Arie, that winds down to a moving lyricism that surely recalls the dedicatee. A hushed coda follows with solemn piano chords and floating strings leading to an elegiac diminuendo.

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Piano Trio Op.24

Composer: Mieczyslaw Weinberg (b. 1919 - d. 1996)
Performance date: Wednesday 1st July 2015
Venue: Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,

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Composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg (b. 1919 - d. 1996)
Work Title Piano Trio Op.24
Composition Year 1945
Work Movements 1. Präludium and Arie – Larghetto
2. Toccata - Allegro marcato
3. Poem - Moderato
4. Finale - Allegro moderato
Artist(s) Alexander Melnikov [piano], David Cohen [cello], Dmitri Sitovetsky [violin]
Performance Date Wednesday 1st July 2015
Performance Venue Bantry House Library, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland,
Event Late Great Show
Duration 00:32:10
Recording Engineer Richard McCullough, RTÉ lyric fm
Instrumentation Category Trio
Instrumentation vn, vc, pf
Programme Note Writer © Francis Humphrys

The music of Mieczyslaw Weinberg has featured regularly in our programmes so many of you will be aware of his extraordinary story. He came from a Jewish musical family in Warsaw in the newly independent Poland; he showed prodigious talent as a pianist at an early age and was accepted by the Warsaw Conservatoire when he was only 12. Intriguingly he was offered a chance to continue his studies in America but he put off the journey until too late. Instead he was driven East by the Nazi invasion in 1939, his parents sending him away with his sister, who, tragically, turned back and died with their parents.

After this Weinberg seemed to lead a charmed life. He made it to Red Army lines and went on to Minsk to continue his studies. His diploma concert took place the day before the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Mercifully Weinberg was considered unfit for military service due to his spinal deformation and was evacuated to Tashkent in faraway Uzbekistan, where he met and married Natalia Vovsi-Mikhoels, daughter of the famous actor Solomon Mikhoels. In 1943 he was called to Moscow by Shostakovich, who had been impressed by the score of Weinberg’s First Symphony, and remained there for the rest of his long life.

The Trio dates from 1945 just after this momentous period in Weinberg’s life and is dedicated to his wife Natalia. Shostakovich’s famous Second Piano Trio dates from the previous year and the similarity in their styles is obvious, both attempting a musical chronicle of the dramatic times they were living through. The similarity is most obvious in the pounding, ostinato-driven second movement. The Präludium  opens with monstrous chords announcing momentous and terrible events, the tension driven even harder by the violin’s impossibly high-lying theme. This gradually winds down and the gentle if edgy Aria is introduced that eventually drifts quietly into the renewed tensions of the wild marcato Toccata, a movement driven by biting strings and a hard-edged, angular piano that makes even some of Shostakovich’s Scherzos seem quite restrained.

The Poem opens with solo piano in the same vein until the music sinks to a strange duo of pizzicato violin with arco cello, before the full trio take up the sad tune. This gradually increases in intensity before slowly returning to the quiet string duo with roles reversed. The extraordinary Finale is outwardly a theme and variations but it somehow incorporates a full fugue (begun by the cello), a toccata and, finally, a recapitulation of the opening Präludium and Arie, that winds down to a moving lyricism that surely recalls the dedicatee. A hushed coda follows with solemn piano chords and floating strings leading to an elegiac diminuendo.