One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

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 for £12.49 postage paid World-wide.

Musicweb Purchase button


Flying Solo
(1881 - 1945)
Sonata for Solo Violin Sz.117 [25:37]
Nicolň PAGANINI (1782 – 1840)
Caprices for Violin Op.1 Nos. 4, 9, 21 [13:05]
Eugčne YSAźE (1858 – 1931)
Sonata No.3 in D minor Op.27 No.3 “Ballade” [6:40]
Sonata No.5 in G major Op.27 No.5 [9:03]
Bernd Alois ZIMMERMANN (1918 - 1970)
Sonata for Solo Violin [9:12]
Augustin Hadelich (violin)
rec. LeFrak Hall, Queens College, New York, USA, 30 December 2008 and 5-6 January 2009
AVIE AV2180 [64:09]

Experience Classicsonline

I had not heard the playing of the 25 year-old Augustin Hadelich prior to this disc although I see that he has recorded the Haydn concertos and Telemann Fantasias for Naxos. Although marketed by Avie records I see that the play and copyrights are held by the performer so this can be considered very much a calling card. And a very considerable one it is too. This is a very well planned and superbly executed disc of solo violin repertoire. With solo violin recitals in particular a certain kind of aural fatigue often sets in – no matter how remarkable the music-making and the technical excellence on display I find I suffer from virtuosity overkill. Not so here – for sure the exceptionally challenging programme is packed-full of enough technical challenges to make any but the very finest player blanch – but Hadelich is able to make the music the primary interest with the display element firmly in the service of the music.
Hadelich contributes the warmly enthusiastic liner-note and explains that the Bartók Solo Sonata which opens the disc is also its centrepiece around which the rest of the programme was formed. He goes on to reveal that it is a work he has lived with for many years and that it was part of the programme for his Carnegie Hall debut. This deep knowledge of the score is revealed in a performance of total conviction, total technical control and profound musical insight. Hadelich alludes to the parallels the piece has with other works both by Bartók and other composers and the way it reflects “the horror of war [and] the sorrow of exile”. I quote Hadelich’s description because I think it is a perfect summation of a work of extraordinary power and intensely felt emotion – this is magnificent music-making and worth the entry price alone. The only mis-step I feel the programme makes is in the placing of three of the Paganini Caprices Op.1 immediately after the Bartók. I assume that the reasoning for their inclusion is because they are such staples of the virtuoso violinist’s repertoire. However, musically and emotionally it’s quite a lurch from the desolate beauty of Bartók to the party tricks of Paganini. Given that the rest of the programme is 20th Century might not the inclusion of the Prokofiev or Hindemith solo sonatas been a more interesting choice? Don’t get me wrong – Hadelich is able to toss off the Paganini with ease but that is just my point - this music does not have the intellectual/musical muscle of the remaining programme. As it happens I recently reviewed James Ehnes’ phenomenal recording of the complete Caprices and if I was being horribly picky I would have to say Hadelich does not have quite the same total technical ease as Ehnes superb though he is.
But as soon as we reach the two Ysaye Sonatas for Solo Violin Op.27 he sounds immediately re-engaged. Again technical address is beyond reproach. What I particularly like though is the way that he builds the drama of these pieces as the works progress. To my mind the group of six sonatas are among the greatest works written for solo violin – Ysaye writes with such thorough understanding of the instrument that he creates an aural illusion of multiple parts playing. For many years my absolute favourite version of these works was that by Oscar Shumsky on Nimbus. Hadelich probably has the edge on Shumsky technically (although it should be noted that the Nimbus recording was from the early days of digital recording when editing was all but impossible so these are in effect “single take” performances) but there remains a stylish fluidity about Shumsky’s playing that reeks of class and experience. The greatest compliment I can pay Hadelich is that his playing reminds me of that late and great master. So to the final item on the programme; the Sonata for Solo Violin by Bernd Alois Zimmermann. To my shame I have to admit this is a work totally unknown by me. What a wonderful discovery it is too – compact and concentrated it lasts a mere nine minutes. Written in 1951 it packs three continuously played movements into its brief span. Don’t let the fact that the musical material is based on a serial tone-row put you off or that he writes (unlike Ysaye!) with little regard for what might or might not be possible on the violin. Hadelich again triumphs in presenting this as a compelling and thoroughly enjoyable work in its own right. Towards the end Zimmermann’s inclusion of a B-A-C-H motif neatly ties the whole programme back to the seminal works for solo violin by Bach from which all these other works ultimately have sprung. Another good example of the thoughtfulness of the programming here is how the first movement of the Bartók which opens the disc is a Chaconne. The last is the motivic allusion to Bach which gives the disc a pleasing symmetry.
A brief word on the recording – Hadelich’s violin is closely miked (as seems to be the current preference) within a warm and resonant acoustic. His violin is the 1683 ex-Gingold Stradivarius and it does sound quite magnificent. I love the way Hadelich really digs into the strings – it is always said you really need to work a Strad hard to get the best results and that approach certainly pays dividends here. Recital discs can be problematic for collectors not wishing to duplicate repertoire. Given that all of the pieces here have been recorded elsewhere and that some might not wish to have “excerpts” from the Ysaye and Paganini complete works I could imagine this being passed over – don’t! As a concert/recital in its own right it works tremendously well. It also serves as an introduction to playing of considerable stature; it is a real privilege. I reiterate my statement about often suffering from virtuosity-fatigue – not so here. The music is the master and it is well served.
Nick Barnard

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 cpo reviews

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

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount




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

Pat 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.