Polish composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg was born in Warsaw in 1913. His father worked in the Yiddish Theatre as a violinist. The young composer would also work in this theatre as a pianist, and the music of the Eastern European Jews would form an indelible influence on his music. As would the tragic events that overtook his family in the Holocaust. His parents and his sister were murdered in the Trawniki concentration camp by the Nazis. Weinberg had fled Poland for Minsk, and then to Tashkent, finally settling in Moscow where he lived until his death in 1996. Even there he was never free from persecution. Shadowed by the KGB, accused by the Soviet Composers Union for ‘formalistic tendencies’, he lived a life under constant fear of arrest, and psychological pressure. He was finally arrested in early 1953, and it was only the tyrant Stalin’s death in March that year that saved him from a longer term. He was released after several week incarceration.
This album provides the perfect introduction to this important 20th century composer who worked with some of the big names of the USSR, David Oistrakh, Rudolf Barshai (the dedicatee of the 7th Symphony) to name just two. The Concertino for cello and strings is shot through with an emotional charge clearly associated with the
harrowing experience of the murder in 1948 of his actor/director father-in-law by the KGB, an event that heralded the beginning of his own persecution by the authorities.