£16 post free World-wide


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

What's New
Previous CDs
Labels index

Every Day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor: Rob Barnett  
Founder Len Mullenger   


Some items
to consider


Free classical music concerts by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.

Mahler 9 Elder

New Lyrita Release

British Violin and Cello Concertos

Lyrita New Recording

Ritchie Symphony 4

Dvorak Opera Premiere

Mozart concertos






Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
Symphony No.1 in A flat major Op.55 (1908) (transc. solo piano Sigfrid Karg-Elert) [54:57] Alan BUSH (1900-1995)
Piano Sonata in B minor Op.2 (1921) [11:47]
Mark Bebbington (piano)
rec. Symphony Hall, Birmingham, August 2006
SOMM SOMMCD069 [66:47]

After the immense success of Elgarís First Symphony, Novelloís Ė the composerís publisher Ė selected Sigfrid Karg-Elert to write a piano reduction. Such was the success of this that he was engaged a few years later to write an arrangement of the Second Symphony as well. Karg-Elert is now best known for his organ and harmonium works, though he wrote for the orchestra and piano as well and this is a feature that is becoming more apparent on disc Ė indeed CPO has an exhaustive series of his compositions underway at the moment. Largely an autodidact and a generation Elgarís junior Karg-Elert was fortunate to be befriended and helped by such as Grieg and Reznicek. And he was the ideal man for the job.
The arrangement lays bare the harmonic bones of the Symphony and Karg-Elertís meticulous work also ensures that he has attempted to reproduce facets of orchestration and colour in the piano writing. This is a terrifically difficult matter given the nature of Elgarís opulent late Romantic scoring, the intense, quivering and jagged nature of much of the first movement, motifs coursing throughout, the legato beauty of the slow movement, the difficult scherzo and the pile-driving element of the finaleís ambiguous triumphalism.
Itís the teeming incident of the opening movement that causes the most problems pianistically. Bebbington is a remarkably agile and sensitive player as we have heard before on disc but neither nor David Owen Norris, whose Radio 3 broadcast is the only other performance of the Karg-Elert that Iíve heard, can escape the palpable tension and strain that is inherent in the reduction. There are times when six hands are called for not two. The thematic and harmonic complexities of this movement and the finale then are the most difficult to convey; especially the more declamatory writing in the finale. The Scherzo is less awkward and the slow movement too. Here the plasticity and nobility of the writing is at its most marked, and maybe Karg-Elertís mind turned to Liszt and to Schumann in his work.
Bebbington has been accorded a remarkably sonorous and sympathetic recording in Symphony Hall and full justice has been done to Karg-Elertís monumental work.
The coupling is unusual, the first recording of Alan Bushís 1921 one movement B minor sonata. Itís a chromatically powerful twelve-minute affair richly indebted to Liszt and written when Bush was a student at the Royal Academy, Its most attractive feature is the warm, untroubled lyricism at its heart and the rather decisive snappy themes and rich chording; a good re-discovery which Bebbington, its champion, plays with rich eloquence.
With fine notes and another first class recording for the Bush this is splendid undertaking. A niche market disc undoubtedly but a valuable one.
Jonathan Woolf


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Prťalable
Cameo Classics
Northern Flowers
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.