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

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger


Buy through MusicWeb for £12.49 postage paid World-wide.

Purchase button


Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936)
Violin Sonata P110 (1917) [26:18]
Leoö JANŃČEK (1854-1928)

Violin Sonata (1921) [18:04]
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)

Violin Sonata Op.18 (1888) [26:39]
Frank Almond (violin)
William Wolfram (piano)
rec. Milwaukee Arts Centre, WI, July 2005.
AVIE AV 2113 [71:33]

Attractive though the programme seems, a number of things conspire against it. Firstly the venue and recording together produce a rather airless and clinical acoustic. Together this works against violinist Frank Almond whose endemically tense vibrato is made to sound even more so. It means that light and shade are badly missing and the ear gets progressively more tired. Itís unfortunate that Almond and Wolfram, two good musicians, are the unlucky recipients of these problems but even do I would have struggled to recommend their performances.

The reading of the Respighi is rather unvarnished Ė except for some rather doubtful moments of excessive emoting early on from Almond. Phrasing is insufficiently coloured and contoured. Wolfram really digs into the Passacaglia but Almondís wary entrance tends to dissipate tension and things rarely catch fire. Players as diverse as Shumsky, Suk, Rosand and Heifetz have all brought a rich array of tone colours and perspectives to this work and brought it joyously to life.

Similarly in the JanŠček. Here the jagged folkloric elements are underplayed in favour of a slightly sentimentalised approach. I enjoyed the resinous attacks in the finale Ė here they really do play with drama and drive Ė but the echo effects arenít right and the sonata doesnít quite hang together. Suk and Panenka are the obvious source of comparison but non-Czech partnerships have shown mastery here as well.

The Strauss, given the foregoing, probably receives the best playing. True thereís little of the classic lift and ardour of a Neveu here but nor is there the rather withdrawn and limp kind of playing that this sonata has called forth recently (no names). I canít say that there is really much in the way of sensuous or romantic projection but Iíd wager Almond has listened to a classic performance; I detect Heifetz slides in the first movement.

Of the two players itís Wolfram who emerges as the one with the greater personality but even he is thwarted by the recording. This is a feature that rather did for the last recording of theirs that I heard, the Brahms sonatas on Boolean Iím afraid the Almond-Wolfram duo and their unfortunate recording venues continue to frustrate me.

Jonathan Woolf


We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

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
Sterling 10% off

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
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

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.