2020
52,943 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here

     
  
 

 

International mailing


  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

CD REVIEW



Some items
to consider



£11 post-free anywhere
Normal service resumed


TROUBADISC

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas


 

Recordings of the Month

July


KAPSBERGER
Che fai tù? - Villanelles


Cyrillus KREEK
The suspended harp of Babel


SHOSTAKOVICH
violin concertos - Ibragimova


Peteris VASKS
Viola concerto - Maxim Rysanov


The Complete Lotte Schöne

June


Beethoven String Quartets


Produzioni Armoniche


Seven Symphonic Poems


Shostakovich VC1 Baiba Skride
Tchaikovsky Symph 5 Nelsons


Vivaldi Violin Concertos

 

 

alternatively Reference Recordings

 

 

Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Miroirs [26:23]
Gaspard de la Nuit [22:02]
Minoru Nojima (piano)
rec. 9-10 August 1989, Oxnard, CA Civic Auditorium
REFERENCE RECORDINGS RR-35CD [50:30]

 


I was thrilled by Minoru Nojima’s Liszt recital. Word has got round that Nojima is a great pianist who got lost, partly of his own choice since he prefers to limit his appearances to smaller Asian centres. He has refused to make any further records after these two set down about two decades ago for Reference Recordings. I made the point that I would need to hear him in a range of music to be sure whether he is a great pianist, but he had undoubtedly made a great Liszt record.

Unfortunately his “other” disc makes his slender reputation more understandable. From the start, “Noctuelles”, the first of “Miroirs”, created a somewhat confused impression and it seemed too tangible. A little way further on we have a passage marked “espressivo” but also “piano” and Nojima pitches in at a full forte. Generally speaking any crescendo, any marking from “mezzo forte” upwards and, especially, anything like “très espressif” inspires him to playing of such heavy-toned insensitivity that it is quite painful to hear.

The same thing happens at innumerable points in “Oiseaux tristes” and, in “Une barque sur l’Océan”, why the hard accent on the second quaver in each bar of the repeated wave-motif? This ocean is soon roiling away like a tsunami and Nojima’s thunderous “très espressif” – marked “mezzo piano” – in the slower chordal theme has to be heard to be believed.

“Alborada del gracioso”, though, gets a very fine performance indeed. The tempo is quite steady and there is an infectious, swaggering rhythm. The repeated notes are beautifully clear. The central section is long-drawn but the softer dynamics are properly realized at last. This is the one performance which would make me want to keep the disc. The bass notes of the piano are badly out of tune in this piece.

Much of “La vallée des cloches” is very beautiful, with just occasional relapses into playing that is too loud. A moment like the drastic shortening of the single low E towards the end – written a dotted half-note but hardly allowed to sound for a fourth-note – betrays a certain superficiality of approach.

“Gaspard de la Nuit” will perhaps stand up better to rough treatment. The opening of “Ondine”, if not triple piano as requested, might be described at least as piano, and the piece is not ineffective when sung out with a sort of Rachmaninovian sweep. Likewise “Le gibet”, fuller-toned than we usually hear, has a certain grandeur. “Scarbo” is limited by the lack of really soft playing. It sounds more violent than menacing.

Picking around for comparisons it occurred to me how many heavy-handed Ravel pianists there seem to be. I told myself at first that I wouldn’t get out Gieseking but in the end I had to. Pure magic, the dynamics perfectly observed, flexible, poised, poetic playing with a translucency of sound that speaks across half a century in spite of the elderly recording quality.

All this is a great pity. If we have to know Nojima by only two discs, I just wish the second had been more Liszt, or at least something to which he is better suited.

Christopher Howell

 

 

 


Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10


Nimbus Podcast


Obtain 10% discount



Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage



Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

 

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.