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


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

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

Puertas de Madrid

Eugène Ysaÿe: Violin Discoveries


new releases


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


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom
Ph. 020 8418 0616


alternatively AmazonUK   AmazonUS


Vincent PERSICHETTI (1915-1987)
Serenade No.5 for Orchestra Op.43 (1950) [10:44]
Symphony for Strings (Symphony No.5) Op.61 (1953) [18:08]
Symphony No.8 (1967) [28:50] *
Louisville Orchestra/Robert Whitney
Louisville Orchestra/Jorge Mester *
rec. 1954 (No.5); 1960 (Serenade); 1970 (No.8), Louisville, Kentucky

First Edition’s reissue programme continues with their splendid Persichetti release. It opens with the Fifth Serenade, written in 1950, one of fifteen such works in this form that he was to write throughout his compositional life. It’s a concise, ten-minute, six-movement work strong on teaky lower string sonorities and rather bluffly vigorous. As no single movement much exceeds two minutes compression and incident are the names of the game – from the light, freewheeling Interlude, full of jollity, to the more concentrated expression of the wind passages in the penultimate Dialogue. The finale is a tangy folkloric Burla.

Of rather greater significance to his canon however are the two symphonies; the Fifth (Symphony for Strings), which was written in 1953 and the Eighth which followed fourteen years later. There is unavoidable high-level hiss on the master tapes of the Fifth, taped in 1954, which is otherwise recorded rather closely. The angularly agitated opening viola theme lies behind the whole single movement – though multi-partite – symphony. Its success lies in its formal conception, in a mastery of long-term structural goals derived from a short seed and in the sense of inevitability with which Persichetti commands his material. Whitney certainly catches its tangible sense of nervousness and anxiety and brings forth the string choir entries in the adagio section with commendable acuity. Where the angularity develops a particular charge – in the Andante pages – we similarly find Whitney fully in control. And so too in the somewhat neo-classically dissonant shape of the whole, as exemplified by the charging and successful Allegro summation – touches of the Mahlerian not excluded. It’s undeniable that whilst the conception is solid, the performance falls somewhat short of ideal. The sections do sometimes lack unanimity of attack and the strings fail really to sing out when it’s most needed. Nevertheless the actual perception underlying Whitney’s 1954 recording is undoubtedly superior to anyone else’s – certainly to the Philadelphia/Muti, whose executant standards naturally are commensurately higher than the Louisville’s. 

The Eighth Symphony was recorded under Mester in 1970. It’s four-movement work not far short of the half-hour mark in length. Tonal, grave but with moments of lucid lightness it’s constructed with all the composer’s accustomed sagacity. A vein of neo-classical elegance balances turbulent, brassy and percussive moments. Even the slow movement, which has genuine warmth, evinces a somewhat patrician sounding reserve. The Allegretto is decidedly brusque. But the finale witnesses a certain falling off of intensity – it’s still propulsive and full of brass dynamism but it’s not as tightly coiled as one finds elsewhere. The playing under Mester is certainly good but that finale in particular might work better if taken with a tighter grip.

The original liner notes are reprinted – always a feature of these Louisville reissues – and standards remain admirably high in this welcome series.

Jonathan Woolf 

see also Review by Rob Barnett




Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10


Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month


Symphonic Works

Frederico Mompou

Extraordinary Music for Organ


Gunnar Kristinsson Moonbow

Mozart and Contemporaries


La clarinette Parisienne



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.