The conducting whirlwind from Vilnius, Lithuania, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla has been extremely successful for three years at the head of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the orchestra that served Simon Rattle as a stepping stone to his position as head of the Berlin Philharmonic. The 32-year-old Lithuanian doesn't necessarily have to lead her further career to the Berliners, especially since it is only there that the famous Kirill Petrenko, to the great chagrin of the Munich opera scene, is about to take over the leadership of the "best orchestra" on German soil. In any case, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla is one of the prominent exponents of female conductors who are slowly but surely conquering the still male-dominated position of the conductor through great and sometimes superior skill. It will be interesting to see where, to which orchestras and in which positions Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla will be led by her career.
This album is dedicated exclusively to Mieczysław Weinberg, whose compositions for a long time were known only to specialists which thirteen years after Weinberg's death are about to be discovered for the concert hall. Born in Poland, Weinberg emigrated to the Soviet Union in 1939 to escape the Nazis and found work and bread at the opera in Tashkent. Four years later, Dmitri Shostakovich, who became aware of the first Weinberg Symphony, invited him to the Russian capital. Weinberg then was active as a freelance composer in Moscow until his death. Similar to his mentor Shostakovich, Weinberg was reprimanded in 1948 for "formalistic" tendencies as one of the "little Shostakovits". In 1953, shortly before Stalin's death, he was arrested on charges of propagating the establishment of a Jewish republic in the Crimea. His lifelong friend and mentor Shostakovich then stood up for him with a letter that was very courageous for the time, but his release was ultimately due to Stalin's death (source: Wikipedia). The cruelties of Stalin's time have shaped Weinberg and his compositions, again similar to his mentor. While Shostakovich processed the Stalin era with composed sarcasm, Weinberg uses a sometimes gentle humor for this. The closeness to Shostakovich at any rate has an audible influence on his compositions. Original Weinberg language: "I regard myself as his pupil, his flesh and blood". Gustav Mahler's influence on his compositions cannot be overheard either. But Weinberg is neither an epigone of Mahler nor of Shostakovich. Rather, he has developed his own musical language, which is increasingly beginning to appeal to us today.
In addition to six operas, Weinberg has composed 21 symphonies, of which numbers 2 and the last symphony, number 21 with the subtitle "Kaddish" can be found on the current Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla album. The Kremerata Baltica is involved in the performance of both symphonies under the direction of its founder Gidon Kremer, who in a passage of number 22 of about eleven minutes, with his thinned out violin voiced against a spooky accompaniment of harp and piano, intones a creepy lullaby that is then counteracted by clarinet, violin and double bass in the manner of a klezmer band. In this symphony, one encounters sound effects that have not been heard before at every turn, as well as alienated borrowings such as from Chopin or Stravinsky's Sacre Du Printemps. The Adagio movement, in which Mahler's Ninth Symphony begins to resonate with high violin notes, surrounded by soft strings, represents a climax of the older of the two symphonies.
The discovery of the long-neglected composer Mieczysław Weinberg goes into its next round with this album, which presents all the performers and the recording technique in top form. Another Weinberg album from Birmingham is planned.
Gidon Kremer, violin
City Of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra
Mirga Grazinyte-Tyla, conductor