Mieczyslaw Weinberg (1919-1996)
Accord ACD241-2

Silesian Quartet
Szymon Krzeszowiec (violin I)
Arkadiusz Kubica (violin II)
Łukasz Syrnicki (viola)
Piotr Janosik (cello)
Recorded in 2016 at the Concert Hall of the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice.
Total Time: 66:11
2nd Feb 2018
String Quartet No. 8 Op. 66 (1959)
1 Adagio – Andante – Allegretto – Allegro – Allegretto – Andante 15:23
Quartet No. 9 Op. 80 (1963)
2 Allegro 6:10
3 Allegretto 5:05
4 Andante 9:53
5 Allegro Moderato 6:33
Quartet No. 10 Op. 85 (1965)
6 Adagio 7:10
7 Allegro 5:08
8 Adagio 2:48
9 Allegretto 7:45


My regular readers know how fond I am of the music of Mieczysław Weinberg, whose name is occasionally spelled, as it is on this release, Wajnberg (or even Vainberg), which is closer to the actual pronunciation. His complete string quartets (17) have already been recorded by Quatuor Danel on CPO, and now the Silesian Quartet is in the process of doing the same for CD Accord. I had no real need to hear Silesian’s recordings because I am quite satisfied with Danel’s, but something told me to take a listen, and I’m glad I did.
The biggest difference between the two sets is the actual sound of the quartet itself. Quatuor Danel opts for a very warm string sound, its violinists in particular using an almost throbbing vibrato—which I happen to like and appreciate—in slow movements. By contrast, the Silesian Quartet (Kwartet Śląski in Polish) has a much leaner, brighter profile of the sort preferred by most modern string groups since the Alban Berg Quartet pioneered this sound back in the 1970s. The result is that, even though Silesian’s tempi are just a shade slower than Danel’s, they sound just as fast in their performances because the tension of their playing is sharper and less slack. Please do not assume that by “less slack” I am denigrating Quatuor Danel’s approach. I am not, but there is no question that faster vibratos, combined with razor-sharp attacks, give the illusion of great speed even when the performances are not really faster. Such was the case with Toscanini’s NBC Symphony Orchestra or the New York Philharmonic when it was conducted by Toscanini or Artur Rodziński. Bright, sharply-articulated string tone always fools the ear into thinking that the music is moving along at 90 miles an hour when in fact it may only be 80.
Thus these performances are every bit as good in their slightly different way as those of Quatuor Danel. Taking them on their own merit and not constantly making A-B comparisons, you’ll find that they make their points just as well through this approach. Both have the emotion that Weinberg’s music requires, and in a sense they complement each other. Quatuor Danel, being warmer-sounding, gives you somewhat more heartfelt slow movements while the Silesian Quartet is more incisive in the fast movements. It’s only a slight degree either way, however, because neither quartet indulges in “fussing” with the music, of adding unnecessary inflections or dragging out passages. Once in a while, e.g. the opening of the “Andante” of Quartet No. 9, I felt that Silesian’s brighter sound translated to a slight edginess of tone, but this is not a fatal flaw, only a matter of degree.
Thus the collector of good music now has an alternative choice, depending on which kind of sound he or she prefers. Had I only the Silesian recordings to go by I would be quite satisfied; they still project Weinberg’s intensity as well as his unusual construction.
© 2018 Lynn René Bayley