£16 post free World-wide

 


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


 


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

Search
What's New
Previous CDs
Concerts
Jazz
Nostalgia
Composers
Resources
Announce
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    




Crotchet   AmazonUK   AmazonUS  
Amazon recommendations

Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Youth Production for Solo Piano Volume 2

The study Years in Helsinki 1888 -1889 (tracks 1-20)
Studies in Berlin under Albert Becker 1889 -1890 (tracks 21-26)
Studies in Berlin under Robert Fuchs and Karl Goldmark 1890-1891 (tracks 27-29)
Three Waltzes
Two Pieces
Two Pieces
Allegro fragment
Three Sonata Movements
Three Fugue Expositions
Polka
Suite 'Florestan'
Allegretto
Valse
Sonata movement (completed Aho 1999)
Sonata fragments for Becker 1889Polka
Mazurka
Scherzo
Folke Gräsbeck (piano)
Recorded 2000
BIS CD 1202
[69.20]


Like my fellow reviewer and friend Gwyn Parry-Jones who wrote of Volume 1 (the years 1885-1888) in March of this year, I must warn against high expectations of earth shattering discoveries. There is a lot of superficially charming music here, much of it very short (unsurprising really because that's what fragments are) and most of it sounding like someone else, and usually like someone very unlike Sibelius too. Indeed his name is hard to imagine in terms of Finlandia or any of the symphonies in the same breath as these piano pieces. I suppose if absolutely everything a composer ever committed to paper, whether completed or not, whether sketched or fleshed out, whether intended for others' eyes and ears or not, is now to be produced, it just shows us where we are at. Some of it becomes just plain silly, such as an eighteen second sketch of an Allegro fragment, and those three frustrating fugal expositions which all begin the same way and never get beyond a Sibelian marathon wall. The ensuing merry Polka is a refreshing mouthwash, at one minute and eight seconds at least it's complete (or is it?). There is a distinct danger with all this that the booklet becomes more interesting than the record it writes about so informatively and in such detail. So don't be attracted like a moth to a candle by the prospect of 29 tracks, if you blink you miss many of them.

Where it starts to get somewhat more interesting and even attractive is in the Three Sonata Movements of 1888, Beethovenian in approach, inventively melodic and less banal than much of the Chopin-like style that seemed to dominate his other ideas, for even the Schumannesque Florestan suite of 1889 (the only non-World première recording) has moments in its Andante in which it threatens to break into 'It ain't necessarily so' or a version in the minor key of 'Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen'. I always thought Sibelius was an expert violinist rather than a pianist. He certainly wrote an excellent red-blooded concerto for the instrument, and far less of consequence for the piano. Thank God he discovered the Kalevala and then concentrated his thoughts on the orchestra instead.

Folke Gräsbeck plays it all eloquently and evidently has great faith in what he is doing (and seems to have discarded the ring which so distracted Gwyn Parry-Jones). I wonder how many years more we have to go before Sibelius gets beyond the years of 'Youth Production', after all on this second volume he was already 23 to 27 and well and truly out of short pants.

This is a disc which will delight the Sibelius anoraks.

Christopher Fifield


Return to 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.