One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,928 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Salon Treasures from the Max Jaffa Library



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
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom


alternatively AmazonUK   AmazonUS



H.K. GRUBER (b. 1943)
Frankenstein! (1977) [31:51]
Perpetuum Mobile - Charivari (1981) [13:45]
Dancing in the Dark (2002) [24:47]
BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/HK Gruber (chansonnier/conductor)
rec. 25-27 February 2005, BBC Broadcasting House, Manchester. DDD
CHANDOS CHAN 10404 [70:48]


HK Gruber is best known as the composer of the celebrated 'pandemonium' Frankenstein!, which has received hundreds of performances and broadcasts worldwide. Here he directs and recites a new version in English, though Chandos offers the original German version as a download. With the formal title ‘A pan-demonium for chansonnier and orchestra after children’s rhymes by H.C. Artmann, the music goes back beyond these version to 1971 and the Frankenstein Suite, which was a sequence of songs and dances written for the Vienna ‘MOB art and tone ART Ensemble’. Full programme notes by the composer are included in the useful booklet, proving that he writes in a manner as engaging and entertaining as he composes and performs. 

The poet H.C. Artmann has described his verses as ‘covert political statements’, whatever that may mean. To quote Gruber: ‘The monsters of political life have always tried to hide their true faces, and all too often succeed in doing so. One of the dubious figures in the pandemonium is the unfortunate scientist who makes so surprising an entry at mid-point. Frankenstein – or whoever we choose to identify with that name – is not the protagonist, but the figure behind the scenes whom we forget at our peril. Hence the exclamation marks.’ 

The results are nothing if not absorbing. The combination of entertaining and witty vocal delivery, of somewhat manic, and delightfully pointed orchestral playing, makes a strong impression. The Chandos recording is both pleasing and natural, allowing the orchestral colours to maximize their impression. That said, it remains difficult to quantify exactly what Gruber’s Frankenstein! is supposed to be. It is an odd mixture: part Pierrot Lunaire, part Façade, part children’s nursery rhyme, though with sinister overtones. As performer Gruber clearly relishes his task and is over-the-top. It’s hard to know how a more deadpan approach would feel, since he has tended to keep the musical performances to himself. He still excels in this English version, though many will feel that the more idiomatic inflections of the original German intensify the effect. 

Excellent orchestral playing can also be experienced in the other music featured here. The Austrian homage which is the basis for Charivari is strongly apparent in its first phase, which delivers Johann Strauss II’s Perpetuum Mobile. Gruber then explores beyond this well known and immensely assured style, exhibiting a rich imagination and a ready wit in the process. Again the recording is exemplary. 

Dancing in the Dark is a more recent piece, written in 2002 and first performed at the Musikverein in Vienna the following January. It is altogether darker in both manner and imagery, reflecting the Vienna of Mahler and Berg rather than the Strauss family. This more intellectually demanding work gains immeasurably from the incisive insert note by Paul Driver. In the fullness of time I suspect that it will be recognized as the finest of these various compositions. 

Terry Barfoot 


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

July 2022

John Luther Adams Houses of the Wind
John Luther Adams
Houses of the Wind

Horneman Alladin
Horneman Alladin

Stojowski piano concertos
Piano Concertos 1 & 2

Vaughan Williams on Brass

Yi Lin Jiang - Dualis I

June 2022

Beethoven Sonatas 29, 32

Orchestral Works

String Quartets Vol 1




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.