Weinberg: Sonatas for Violin Solo
In a scene from his 1968 opera, The Passenger, Mieczyslaw Weinberg depicts a prisoner at Auschwitz performing Bach’s “Chaconne” from the Partita No. 2 for solo violin as an act of defiance. It’s an overwhelmingly powerful moment that juxtaposes culture and extreme barbarism. Weinberg, whose parents died at the hands of the Nazis, brings that defiance to his three sonatas for solo violin, alongside an unquenchable rage. Sonata No. 1 is a work of relentless emotional power, from its explosive opening and aggressive pizzicatos to its anguished slow movement and scurrying final “Presto.” The Sonata No. 2 is no less challenging, its series of short, intense episodes played here with extraordinary energy by Gidon Kremer. The Sonata No. 3 alternates between tender reminiscences of family to unbridled anger. These are important works that, at last, receive the performances they deserve.