Hartmann: Concerto funebre; Weinberg: Concertino, Op 42; Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes, Op 47 No 3; Shostakovich: Unfinished Sonata for violin and piano (1945)

Reviewed on Wed 29 Jul, 2015

Weinberg's Concertino and Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes wear an endearingly lyrical, engagingly relaxed and often sunny demeanour which acts as an effective foil to the main item on the programme, namely Hartmann's masterly and urgently communicative Concerto funebre for violin and string orchestra.

In recent years Linus Roth and the good folk at Challenge Classics have been on something of a crusade for the music of Mieczysław Weinberg (1919-1996). Both the Concertino and Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes date from 1948-50 and wear an endearingly lyrical, engagingly relaxed and often sunny demeanour which acts as an effective foil to the main item on the programme, namely the masterly and urgently communicative Concerto funebre for violin and string orchestra that Munich-born pacifist Karl Amadeus Hartmann (1905-1963) completed in 1939 before going into internal exile for the duration of the war. Originally entitled 'Music of mourning' and prompted in part by the Nazis' annexation of Czechoslovakia the previous year, it's a superbly crafted, harrowingly intense and profoundly compassionate masterwork, and the present, hugely eloquent display holds up extremely well by the side of Gidon Kremer (Teldec), Isabelle Faust (ECM), Alina Ibragimova (Hyperion) and André Gertler (Supraphon). The disc concludes with the world premier recording of the 5-minute torso of a sonata for violin and piano that Weinberg's friend and colleague Dmitri Shostakovich left incomplete in 1945; listen out for thematic material to which he was to return eight years later in the towering Tenth Symphony. A fascinating and rewarding SACD, this, superbly played and finely engineered.
–Andrew Achenbach