Mieczysław Weinberg had an extraordinary life. Born into a Jewish family in Warsaw in 1919, he entered the conservatory at the age of 12 where he composed the first of his 17 string quartets. Fleeing the Nazis to the Soviet Union at the outbreak of World War II, he was evacuated to Tashkent where he met his wife, the daughter of the great Jewish actor Solomon Mikhoels.

He also met fellow evacuee Dmitri Shostakovich who became a friend for life and encouraged his post-war relocation to Moscow. While Weinberg’s music fell foul of the Zdanov decree of 1948, his steady output and rehabilitation after Stalin’s death in 1953 resulted in a substantial body of work before his death in 1996.

Weinberg Silesian Quartet

Many nowadays rate Weinberg highly. His 22 symphonies and seven operas have attracted the bulk of the attention over the last decade. Even better are his 17 string quartets, which span his whole career and – in this writer’s opinion – are the equal of any 20th-century quartet cycle (and yes, I include Shostakovich and Bartók). Where the symphonies spawl, the more tersely argued...