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             



Pristine Audio Direct

Gabriel FAURÉ (1845-1924)
Seven Piano Pieces:
Impromptu No.2 in F minor Op.31 (1883) [3.41]
Nocturne No.6 in D flat major Op.63 (1894) [7.04]
Barcarolle No.2 in G major Op.41 (1885) [5.55]
Nocturne No.13 in B minor Op.119 (1921) [6.40]
Barcarolle No.1 in A minor Op.26 (c.1880) [4.37]
Nocturne No.4 in E flat major Op.36 (1884) [5.57]
Thème and Variations in C sharp minor Op.73 (1895) [12.28]
Kathleen Long (piano)
rec. London, 1951. ADD
I happen to be delighted to see Kathleen Long’s early 1950s Decca Fauré recordings once more available. The correspondence on these performances “in another place” prompted me to dig out her 78s. This involves not just the slew of Mozart recordings she made for Decca, some of which have been collated by Dutton on an all-Long disc, but also her first recordings. She began her career in the studios recording for Compton Mackenzie’s National Gramophonic Society (N.G.S.). Whilst even then she was pegged as a Mozart specialist she was also to record Bach. As an aside someone should really get to grips with the N.G.S. discs, the market for which may well prove small, but the recordings of which - not always perfectly recorded it’s true - did enshrine some outstanding traversals of often unusual repertoire.
Long was for some time probably Britain’s leading exponent of the French repertoire. An allied assurance can be seen in her recording of the Third Delius Sonata with Sammons (Dutton) and in altogether less wistful form in Walter Leigh’s Concertino. Her Fauré recordings were not many but they were well received; I believe that this is the second of her recordings of the Thème and Variations. As one might imagine, her technical competence is high, though not infallible. She sounds especially harried in passages in the Fourth Nocturne.
She’s a direct exponent of the repertoire, clear-sighted, architecturally sure-footed, tonally bright. She may be considered bracingly extrovert where others prefer pastel. In this performance of the Nocturne in E flat major she hammers away in the treble – maybe the rather unhelpful original Decca set up exaggerates it – and points bass rhythms with a certain ebullience. Turn to the recordings of Germaine Thyssens-Valentin, made a few years later in 1956, and we find a totally different sound world; caressing, slower (always slower) and with subtler colouration. That very open Decca sound is present throughout but especially the Sixth Nocturne where Long can sound too urgent after immersion in Thyssens-Valentin – though she does bring a forceful romanticism to bear.
Long’s view was a consistent and entertaining one even if I find her rhythmically muddled in the B minor Nocturne. With the Barcarolles she tends to play the blunt outspoken guest to Thyssens-Valentin’s more coy and rhythmically more teasing host, the one rather rushing and the other wryly amused. Try the G major for an explicit contrast of that kind and the A minor Barcarolle for moments where the French player’s hinterland of expression proves too great and expansive for the Englishwoman’s. In the great Thème and Variations we hear Long’s clipped and highly accented approach bringing no-nonsense authority – though note that she gets through the theme in 1.38 and Thyssens-Valentin in 2.15, an indicator of their expressive responses throughout.
Originally released on two ten-inch discs the Pristine Audio team has worked hard on its restoration. I don’t have access to either of the LPs so can’t make a direct comparison, but if there’s a hint of stuffiness at the treble end I can say that the results are still commendably clear and involving. Andrew Rose and his team will earn kudos for this disc – check his website for the restructured pricing of his discs.
Jonathan Woolf


Pristine Audio Direct



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

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

September 2022
Nikolai Medtner
Herbert Blomstedt
Tarrodi Four Elements
Secret Love Letters
Lisa Batiashvili

August 2022

Louis Caix d'Hervelois

orchestral songs



String Quartets

la folia


Yi Lin Jiang - Dualis I



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.