Just as the "Vainberg" series on Olympia is fast disappearing from the North American and European markets, Chandos has introduced 2 volumes of "Weinberg" symphonies and other orchestral works. Comprising the composer's fifth symphony and his first sinfonietta, this first volume nicely complements the symphonies (2,4,6,7,10,12,14,17,18,19)previously issued by Olympia, along with three of Vainberg's four chamber symphonies (1,2,4). For its part, the Sinfonietta no. 1 (1948), inspired by Jewish folk music, also serves as a counterpart to the Rhapsody on Moldavian themes (1949) which accompanied the Symphony no.4 and the Violin Concerto on Olympia OCD 622. Furthermore, whereas the Chandos disc offers a 2003 recording by the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, under Gabriel Chmura, much of the Olympia collection consists of older recordings, of uneven quality, from the early 1960's to the 1990's.
As always, Mieczyslaw Weinberg is better understood and appreciated as a perceptive observer of the Russian artistic experience and of his society's collective psyche, between the Second World War and 1996, than as a "conservative modernist" who strove to serve the present-day emotional self-indulgence of classical music lovers completely divorced from the harsh realities of his life. His Symphony no.5, itself a testament to Dimitri Shostakovich and his long suppressed Symphony no.4, was dedicated to conductor Kiril Kondrashin, a champion of Weinberg's work. It thus remains a heartfelt expression of Weinberg's admiration for Shostakovich and of gratitude for Kondrashin.