This is the Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes. It starts off really calmly, with cellos and basses, though pretty soon the rest of the orchestra joins in and the main melody first appears just after 2 minutes. But for me the real joy is after about 6 minutes! There are Weinberg works that I find more beautiful or more moving and I'm sure I'll post those sometime, but I've been addicted to this Rhapsody for a few days now because it brings a smile to my face. Have a listen:
Mieczyslaw Weinberg - Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes
Played by the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, cond. Gabriel Chmura.
Mieczyslav (Moisey) Weinberg (1919-2006) was a Jewish Polish/Russian composer. He was born in Warsaw, where he later studied at the conservatory. The history of his family is tragic, his parents and sister died in the Trawniki concentration camp, but when WWII broke out Weinberg fled to the Soviet Union, settling in Minsk. In 1943 Dmitri Shostakovich convinced him to move to Moscow, and the two became good friends. Weinberg was never a part of the musical elite in Russia, some considered him a bad version of Shostakovich, but at the same time many other composers (and some critics) did love Weinberg's music. Nowadays he is still much less well-known than his contemporaries, though last year the Vredenburg in Utrecht had a small festival dedicated to his music (and of course I am very much regretting not seeing more of those concerts!). Weinberg wrote 22(!) symphonies, 17 string quartets, 7 operas and whole bunch of other music including a requiem. I still have to a lot to explore when it comes to his music, but I'm very excited to do so.
The Rhapsody on Moldavian Themes was written in 1949. Unfortunately I can't find all that much information on it. It's about 12 to 15 minutes long and its title already gives away where much of its inspiration was taken from. One of the reasons why I like it so much is that although it contains some upbeat catchy melodies it's not a consistently joyful piece. Take the opening for example, which one could perhaps compare to something like Shostakovich's Eight Symphony (and no one could ever call that a happy piece!). It is slow and brooding, almost foreboding. It doesn't betray anything of the energetic and joyous middle part, yet everything flows and everything works well together. I hope at the very least that it makes you remember Weinberg's name and perhaps search out some more of his music.