Weinberg’s Sincere and Touching “Polish Flowers”

Review by: David Hurwitz


Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 9

Although he never returned to his native Poland after the Second World War, Mieczyslaw Weinberg never lost touch with his roots. His Eighth symphony of 1964 is a setting of 10 poems (in Polish) of poet Julian Tuwim for chorus, tenor, and orchestra, with brief contributions from soprano and alto soloists as well. The subjects range from images of nature (Gust of Spring, There was an Orchard, Elderberry) to social injustice (Lessons, Justice), to the depredations of the Nazi years (Warsaw Dogs, Mother). The music is compelling, often haunting, and quite touching. Weinberg’s scoring is sparse and for the most part restrained, keeping power in reserve for the central poems about cruelty and inhumanity (Lesson, Warsaw Dogs), while his vocal writing gets the most out of simple melodies that carefully project the text.

Antoni Wit and his Warsaw forces are almost always at their best in choral music (remember the stunning Mahler Eighth and vocal works of Penderecki). The chorus sings with the right purity and, where called for, intensity. Tenor Rafal Bartminski has a pleasing timbre and makes a very effective soloist. Both women handle their small parts as well as anyone could ask, and the whole production is very well recorded. Naxos makes texts (Polish only) available on its website, fortunately, as the music really does ask that you know what the singing is all about. A little help from Google Translate and you’re basically set, more or less. This is a very fine release of music by an elusive but tremendously sincere and worthy composer.

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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: No reference recording

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