£16 post free World-wide


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

What's New
Previous CDs
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  
Founder Len Mullenger   

www.bso.org/shop: £12.00

Seiji Ozawa Hall 10th Anniversary Celebration
Ludwig Van BEETHOVEN (1770-1827)

String Quartet No. 12 in E-flat, Opus 127 (1st movement)
Juilliard String Quartet July 1, 2001
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)

Sonata in D minor, Opus 108 (2nd movement)
Yo-Yo Ma, cello; Emanuel Ax, piano July 19, 2001
Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945)

String Quartet No. 2, Opus 17 (2nd movement)
Emerson String Quartet July 25, 1995
Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)

Berceuse in D-flat, Opus 57
Dubravka Tomsic, piano July 16, 2003
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)

La Danse de Puck

Richard Goode, piano August 1, 2002
György LIGETI (1923-)


Pierre-Laurent Aimard, piano July 20, 2003
Toru TAKEMITSU (1930-1996)

Shuteiga ("In an Autumn Garden"): Enbai ("Melisma")
Reigakusha July 23, 1996
Augusta Read THOMAS (1964-)

Two movements from Spirit Musings
Fellows of the Tanglewood Music Center July 18, 2003
Johannes BRAHMS

"Unbewegte laue Luft," Opus 7, No.8
Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, mezzo-soprano; Peter Serkin, piano July 10, 2003
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)

"Irrlicht" from Winterreise, D. 911
Matthias Goerne, baritone; Eric Schneider, piano July 10, 2002
Hugo WOLF (1860-1903)

"Kennst du das Land"
Mitsuko Shirai, mezzo-soprano; Harmut Höll, piano July 18, 1996
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)

Leporelloís Catalogue Aria from Don Giovanni
Thomas Quasthoff, bass-baritone; Freiburg Baroque Orchestra August 11, 1999

"Bugail Aberdyfi" ("Shepard of Aberdovey")
Byrn Terfel, bass-baritone; Malcolm Martineau, piano August 11, 1998
TRAD. (arr. James Erb and Donald Bartholomew) "Shenandoah"

Chanticleer August 5, 1999
Astor PIAZZOLLA (1921-1992) (arr. José Bragato)


KREMERata Baltica/Gidon Kremer, artistic director and violin soloist August 5, 1998



The Boston Symphony Orchestra created this disc to celebrate the 10th anniversary (1994-2004) of the opening of Seiji Ozawa Hall at their summer quarters in Tanglewood, Massachusetts. It is a souvenir collection of great live performances with no other unifying theme beyond the location of the recordings.

Ozawa Hall is a wonderful place to attend concerts. The setting is pastoral, the hall attractive in a modern-barn-like vernacular, the seating is practically opulent, the site lines are wonderful, and the sound is enchanting. The stage can fit a small orchestra, but the venue is used mostly for chamber concerts and recitals, and it has an intimate feeling that benefits such programs. So letís celebrate, but first a caveat.

It would be easy to criticize the selections on this CD, but thatís not really to the point. In choosing fifteen relatively short performances, theyíre sure to find something to offend everyone; why did they leave out such and such a composer or artist? Given the compromises necessary in making such a compilation, I accept the choices as they are. They are certainly admirably diverse, and in this they are a reflection of the diversity of the programming at Tanglewood as presented by some of the best-known summer regulars.

The first half of the CD, eight tracks worth, presents chamber works in alphabetical order by composer, from Beethoven to Augusta Read Thomas. Actually, the intent seems to have been a division into three chamber works, three solo piano pieces, and three nearly contemporary works, with the last of the one and the first of the other overlapping.

The first movement of Opus 127, the 12th of Beethovenís sixteen string quartets performed by the Juilliard String Quartet is lyrical, passionate, and everything one would expect from such an august group. Yo-Yo Ma playing the second movement, Adagio, arranged for cello of Brahms Violin Sonata in d-minor with Emanuel Ax at the piano, is similarly lovely.

Next up, the Emerson Quartet, and you can feel them sitting on the edge of their chairs as they dig into the second movement of Bartókís String Quartet No. 2, Allegro molto capriccioso. They are, in fact, capricious in a devilishly compelling way that is a hallmark for them. Then itís back to more romantic fare with Dubravka Tomsic, the Slovenian pianist, playing Chopinís Berceuse. Sheís a bit of a dark horse in this hit parade, but a favorite of the Boston Symphony, and her Berceuse shows a deftly romantic-without-being-fussy touch. It is as relaxed as the Emersonís are taut.

Another softly rocking piano piece, but playfully so, Debussyís La Danse de Puck from Préludes, Book 1, and Richard Goode plays with an expressive freedom that keeps the mood light, but also with a distinct edge of Shakespearean menace. Puck is not all fun and games, he just appears to be. From expressive to the metronome-like Étude, Book II, No. 8, titled Fém, of the Hungarian-born composer, György Ligeti. The French pianist, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, is as precise as the pieceís polyrythms and clusters are, perhaps, intentionally misleading. It is the listener who is on the edge of his seat through this one.

Next, the unexpected, at least if you were expecting strictly "classical" fare. Toru Takemitsu, the prolific Japanese composer, was obsessive in his pursuits, especially in his love of movies and feeling for nature. Takemitsu wrote nearly one hundred film scores, and while Shuteiga ("In and Autumn Garden") is not one of them, it has the feel of program music: Japanese flutes are bird-like, the oddly nasal shawms (a double-reed instrument) are more insect-like. The narrative is punctuated by drum beats and sticks. Itís an acquired taste, but one can imagine that in the setting of Ozawa Hall, the effect could be quite stirring.

The most recently composed piece on the CD, Spirit Musings for violin and chamber orchestra, and the only one by an American, Augusta Read Thomas, is unfortunately also the least successful. The performance by the Tanglewood Music Center Fellows is intense, but it is ultimately sound and fury signifying nothing.

The rest of the CD is vocal music followed by an encore. Three "art songs," by Brahms, Schubert, and Wolf, are well-known works. Lorraine Hunt Lieberson with Peter Serkin, Matthias Goerne with Eric Schneider, and Mitsuko Shirai with her husband, Hartmut Holl, all give performances that are beautiful, intelligent, and that feel just right for the works presented. Leporelloís Catalogue Aria ("Madamina") from Mozartís Don Giovanni, K.527, receives a similarly spot-on performance from Thomas Quasthoff and the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra. These singing performances are all flawless, but the combination of tracks lacks any kind compelling flow.

Perhaps the performances that work best on this CD are the final three "light" works. They do a better job of standing on their own. Bryn Terfel sings a traditional Welsh song, "Shepherd of Aberdovey," with a combination of heart-tugging lyricism, tragic sadness, and native pride. The American all-male chorus, Chanticleer, performs an arrangement of "Shenandoah" with similar feeling, but also with remarkable variety. Starting with Gregorian chant, it moves into close harmony, a remarkably pure-sounding male soprano solo, soprano with echoes, and ending with a Gregorian note leading back to close harmony.

For the encore, Gidon Kremerís orchestra of young and talented string players, KREMERata BALTICA, performs an arrangement of an Astor Piazzolla tango, Escualo, that is easily the most virtuosic and most immediately satisfying of all the tracks on the CD. It makes one want to go out and buy their complete CD of Piazzolla arrangements.

Which brings us to the ultimate problem with collections such as this one. The whole is no greater than the sum of its parts, and the parts are too diverse to present any kind of coherent picture. So we have a sampler of curiosities. As such, the familiar Beethoven quartet, however magnificently performed, is just another performance. And the same can be said for most of the works recorded here. One would like to be able to say that there is a spontaneous quality to these live performances that is missing from most of todayís faultless recordings, but thereís too much jumping around to get a sense of this.

On the other hand, taken as a portfolio of works presented, itís evident that Tanglewood in general, and Ozawa Hall in particular, are very much alive with music. The performers, the repertoire, the explorations are diverse in a way that remains exciting, even for an institution as august as Tanglewood. The real intention of this CD is to encourage us to visit, which, in the end, is the more satisfying experience.

Clay Andres

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.