MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2023
Approaching 60,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Buy through MusicWeb from £12.00 postage paid World Wide.
You may prefer to pay by Sterling cheque or Euro notes to avoid PayPal. Contact for details

Musicweb Purchase button


Nicolae BRETAN (1887–1968)
Ruxandra Donose (mezzo); Julius Drake (piano)
rec. Wyastone Leys, Monmouth, U.K. 6-7 July 2005
texts and English translations included

Sound Sample - excerpt

Stelele-n cer (Stars in the sky)

1. Şi dacă ramuri bat ǐn geam (And if branches beat against the window) [2:07]
2. Cucule, de ce nu vii (Cuckoo, why don’t you return) [2:30]
3. Rea de plată (The reluctant debt payer) [1:56]
4. Nut e-ai priceput! (You were such a knucklehead!) [4:10]
5. Ǐn parcul Luxemburg (In Luxemburg garden) [4:05]
6. Pe lǐngă plopii fără soţ (Where mateless poplars grow) [2:03]
7. Noapte de vară (Summer night) [5:42]
8. Gazel (Gazel) [2:25]
9. Ideal (Illusion) [22:41]
10. Ǐn fereastra dinspre mare (At the window on the sea) [2:27]
11. O, vin pe mare (Come down to the sea) [2:14]
12. Lună, lună, stea vicleană (Moon, moon, you wily star) [1:09]
13. Pe aceeaşi ulicioară (On the same lane) [2:25]
14. La groapa lui Laie (At the grave of Laie) [5:56]
15. Ş-acele dulci păreri de rău (And that sweet remorse) [1:33]
16. Prea sus aţi fost! (So far above!) [2:59]
17. Stelele-n cer (Stars in the sky) [3:03]

Nicolae Bretan was born on 25 March 1887 in Naszod, Hungary and died on 1 December 1968 in Cluj, Romania. Insofar as he is known at all in the West it is for his operas, which are among the best of Romanian operas: Luceafarul, Golem, Horia and Arald have all been recorded by Nimbus. That he is so little known is certainly due to the fact that he was made a ‘non person’ by the Communist Regime. Besides being composer, conductor and critic he was also a singer. It is the song writing that "runs like a connecting thread through his entire creative life". He set Romanian texts but also Hungarian and German. On the present disc, and a companion disc from the renowned baritone Alexandru Agache, Nimbus pay a well deserved tribute to this part of his oeuvre. I hope that the public interest will be big enough for this enterprise to pay off.

I must admit to not being particularly well informed about Nicolae Bretan, even though I knew the name. Listening through this disc during a couple of sittings and returning to certain songs for a second hearing I have to report a steadily growing enthusiasm for his music. After just a couple of songs I realised that he has a voice of his own, not easy to define, but it is highly accessible music, tonal and eminently well wrought for the human voice and with tunes that stick. Several songs are quite simply structured, strophic settings while others are elaborated and through-composed. His choice of poems encompasses lyrical reflection as well as humoristic narrative and the longest item, Ideal (tr. 9) is an almost 23-minute-long ballad in four sections – it might as well be described as a song-cycle. The melodies seem to come directly from the Romanian soil – there is nothing calculated or artificial about them. The accompaniments are unobtrusive but efficient and Julius Drake is as usual a listening pianist – the ideal partner for any singer.

Those who still doubt my judgement should lend an ear to the first two songs, the atmospheric Summer night (tr. 7), the evocative At the window on the sea (tr. 10) with some Sibelian echoes, the light and beautiful Come down to the sea (tr. 11) or On the same lane (tr. 13). The dark At the grave of Laie (tr. 14) is nine stanzas long but each stanza has its own melodic material. The concluding Stars in the sky (tr. 17) is another gem - contemplative and beautiful.

So much for the songs. The singing is another bait. Ruxandra Donose’s operatic career has brought her to most of the major stages of the world, and with her beautiful, rounded mezzo-soprano and her deep involvement she is just as apt at tackling the more intimate art of Lieder. Singing in her mother tongue she relishes the poems and we are offered marvellously assured and refined singing. Many of the songs are on a relatively intimate scale and Ms Donose often sings with restraint. She also has at her disposal deep contralto chest-notes and at the other end of the range a silvery top.

I am eager to return to these songs in such compelling readings. I look forward to hearing the companion disc, where Agache includes several songs that Ruxandra Donose also sings.

The liner-notes are compiled from Hartmut Gagelmann’s book Nicolae Bretan: His Life – His Music, and there are full texts and line by line translations. Nimbus clearly belongs to the rank of companies that refuse to compromise on production values. There is no way of finding fault with the recording.

Since I believe that a majority of our readers are just as unfamiliar with the works of Nicolae Bretan as I was, I can only urge those interested in good songs and superlative singing to investigate this issue. It should yield a good return.

Göran Forsling

Further Bretan songs here

Other Bretan reviews

My Lieder-Land Volume 1

My Lieder-Land Volume 2 RECORDING OF THE MONTH (April)

SONGS Ruxandra Donose (sop)

SONGS Alexandru Agache (baritone)

Sacred Songs

Horia - Opera

Golem, Arald - Operas



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

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.