This release is special in two ways. First, it marks the centenary of Mieczyslaw Weinberg’s birth in 1919. Second, it’s the debut recording of the East-West Chamber Orchestra.

The combination is magic — we get phenomenal performances of some phenomenal music.

The East-West Chamber Orchestra has been the in-house ensemble for the Yuri Bashmet International Music Festival. It consists of concertmasters and soloists from across the globe.

Performance levels are quite high — as are the quality of the instruments. Not surprisingly, there are more than a few Guarneris, Gaudagninis and Stradivaris.

It all translates into exceptional performances with exceptional sound. I think this is about the best-sound string ensemble I’ve heard in the Naxos catalog.

And the music is worth the effort.  Weinberg’s music is often compared to that of his friend and colleague, Dmitri Shostakovich. There are some parallels. To my ears, Weinberg has a harder time keeping his emotions in check.

Both of these concertos were reworked from earlier string quartets. The quartets were written just before the Second World War, the concertos in the late 1980s-early 1990s. Weinberg brings a lifetime of experience to these works. The depth of expression they offer can be breath-taking — especially in these performances.

As I said, phenomenal performances of some phenomenal music.

Mieczyslaw Weinberg: Chamber Symphonies Nos. 1 & 3
East-West Chamber Orchestra; Rostislav Krimer, conductor
Naxos 8.574063