Grigory Kalinovsky, professor of violin at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, recently teamed with pianist Tatiana Goncharova to record the complete sonatas for violin and piano by composer Mieczysław Weinberg. The two-CD set is now available on the Naxos label.
“Recording the full set of sonatas for violin and piano by Mieczysław Weinberg has been an incredible journey,” said Kalinovsky. “These sonatas span almost his entire life—from the first one, written when the composer was only 23 years old, to the last one, Sonata No. 6, written in 1982, the manuscript discovered only a few years ago in the composer’s archives. Each sonata has its own unique atmosphere, from deeply profound to unearthly to even a charming operetta (like the 1949 Sonatina), but all of them clearly and recognizably Weinberg, undoubtedly one of the greatest twentieth-century composers.”
Kalinovsky and Goncharova have been playing together since their college days—over 25 years. They recorded the CD Dmitri Shostakovich: 1 Violin Sonata + 24 Preludes for violin and piano for Centaur Records in 2003, and since Weinberg was Shostakovich’s close friend and protégé, it seemed like a logical continuation to the duo. “In addition,” according to Kalinovsky, “the music is wonderful, but very rarely played, and was only starting to be rediscovered when we started the project for Naxos in 2010.”
Weinberg is now recognized as one of the outstanding Russian composers of the second half of the twentieth century. Feted for his symphonies and string quartets, he also wrote a sequence of violin sonatas crucial to the development of his distinctive and elusive musical idiom. Shostakovich’s influence is evident in the Third Violin Sonata, as are Jewish melodic elements, while the Fourth Violin Sonata is alternately somber and hectic. Weinberg’s masterpiece is the Fifth Violin Sonata, symphonic in scale but subtle in form and containing some of his most affecting writing.