One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor in Chief: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider


tenor and baritone

A very fine achievement

Complete ballet

Orchestral Music

music that will please greatly

Captivating scores

Symphonies - Philippe Jordan
A pleasure to see and hear

vital imagination

A harum-scarum springboard

Always expect the unexpected

Buy through MusicWeb from £10.00 postage paid.
You may prefer to pay by Sterling cheque or Euro notes to avoid PayPal. Contact for details

Musicweb Purchase button

Heitor VILLA-LOBOS (1887-1959)
Cello Sonata No.2 Op.66 [27:30]
Sergei RACHMANINOFF (1873-1943)
Cello Sonata in G minor, Op. 19 (1901) [32:03]
Wolfgang Laufer (cello)
Steven Swedish (piano)
Recorded at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, undated
GASPARO GSCD 365 [59:33]

Though the pressing and copyright year is noted as 2006 this is not a new release, Gasparo having originally released this unusual and unlikely pairing on GS 270C. I donít know the date of recording though it would have been better for the company to have acknowledged an exact year. As it is one notices a relatively high level of tape hiss in the Villa-Lobos, perhaps less so in the companion work, but sufficient to wonder whether any remedial work has been carried out on the master tapes; apparently such work has, but itís not a really satisfactory state of affairs.

Enough of the technical concerns, what about the performances? Well Laufer and Swedish prove to be upholders of the linear tendency in Rachmaninoff playing. Not for them the dank and weepy byways, the Turovsky-Edlina school of wringing every drop of emotion, every furtive tear, from this sonata. No, these are serious minded and straight-down-the-middle men. Laufer in fact has a stringent and rather military approach to tempo and to the dictates of architecture generally. Even in the slow movement he proves reluctant to countenance the kind of expressive shading, the shaping of dynamics, accelerandi and decelerandi, and the use of finger position changes to make emotive points. He is, so far as I can tell, at the opposite end of the spectrum from Turovsky when it comes to matters of expressive content. Everyone else will sit somewhere between these twin poles.

The Villa-Lobos is a strange one. Iím a big admirer of the chamber works, the extensive series of string quartets in particular and the late chamber works still have a wonderful avidity and warmth to them. But that doesnít much come across in the Second Sonata; or at least not in this performance. Steven Swedish proves his chops are in fine form in the quite demanding piano opening and thereís warm lyricism in the flowing slow movement. But despite the evocative extroversion of the finale and the folk-inflected rhythms of the scherzo itís a performance that doesnít really excavate the full measure of the sonataís passion.

These then are rather lean and occasionally impersonal performances, variably and closely recorded. At their best they offer the rewards of clarity and a certain judicial detachment.

Jonathan Woolf


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
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
Sheva £2 off
Sheva Contemporary
Sterling 10% off
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
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.