Hungarian cello concertos

Emma Johnson

Newest Releases

Walter Leigh
  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

Free classical music concerts by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.

  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo
  • Stellar debut<br>piano recital
  • Clarinet transcriptions Jonathan Cohler
  • Jonathan Cohler & Claremont Trio
  • French clarinet masterpieces
  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo

Vinyl edition

Uplifting music

cracking performance from start to finish


Sheer magic

Why did I wait so long ?


Sibelius Symphonies Maazel
4CDs + Blu-ray audio

Simply unforgettable

Shostakovich Symphony 10 Nelsons






Would you like a hyperlinked weekly summary of the CDs we have reviewed?

Click for further details

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Buy through AmazonUK

Not available in the USA


Fryderyk CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Great Pianists - Cortot: Volume 5
Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23 (1835) [8:48]
Ballade No. 2 in F major, Op. 38 (1839) [6:53]
Ballade No. 3 in A flat major, Op. 47 (1841) [6:43]
Ballade No. 4 in F minor, Op. 52 (1842) [9:45]
Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2 in E flat major (1830-31) [4:20]
Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2 in E flat major (1830-31) [4:16]
Nocturne Op. 15 No. 1 in F major [4:33]
Nocturne Op. 15 No. 2 in F sharp major (1830-31) [3:22]
Nocturne Op. 27 No. 1 in C sharp minor [4:40]
Nocturne Op. 55 No. 1 in F minor [4:33]
Nocturne Op. 55 No. 2 in E flat major [4:35]
Alfred Cortot (piano)
rec. Queen’s Small Hall, London 1929 (Ballades), EMI Abbey Road Studio, London 1947, 1948, 1949 and 1951 (Nocturnes)
NAXOS HISTORICAL 8.111245 [62:29]

The final two volumes of Naxos’s Cortot-Chopin 78s series, of which this is the fifth and final one, offer substantial riches and do so moreover in fine sounding transfers. Three of the four Ballades were successfully accomplished on the same day – 11 March 1929 – and only the G minor belongs to another session made nearly three months later. These are less well known than the later 1933 recordings and are thus doubly deserving of our attention.
In the G minor he opens with powerful and potently introspective passion. Subsequent accelerandi may not convince those who favour a more metrically rectitudinous approach but it sounds magnetically fervent nevertheless. Cortot’s expressive range is so wide, so deep that he seems to encompass every tactile facet from the Ballades. In the circumstances his fabled uneven technique, which lets him down in minor ways in the G minor, is of utterly subservient significance. Similarly with the F major we find a remarkable balance between the dictates of lyrical expression and tensile drama. This is a hugely complex piece and it’s difficult to fuse together its oppositional character. Cortot’s solutions always sound convincing and true both to the sinew and to the mind behind it. In the Third Ballade we feel him drive with ever devastating drama toward the heart of the matter – where the volatile flexibility of pulse brings the central section to truly volcanic life. As for the F minor it too is propelled by Cortot’s incendiary eloquence. It stands as a kind of panorama of intensity and of feelings pushed almost to the breaking point.
The Nocturnes span a wide range of recording dates but demonstrate the same virtues. There are six here with one remake. The essence of them in Cortot’s hands is an almost vocalised expression allied to ravishing tone colours. True, his individuality can sometimes elide into mannerism – desynchronised chording was no longer fashionable and the metrical to-ings and fro-ings which he displays could fairly be judged indulgent.  Still, how ravishing is the F major [Op. 15 No. 1] in all its limpid beauty.
The Op.55 Nocturnes have also been transferred on an APR disc devoted to Cortot’s post-war London sessions (APR 5571). Naxos has retained just a slighter higher quotient of surface noise but otherwise there’s little in it.

A triumphant end for the Cortot-Chopin series then. Good restoration work allows us to hear these performances in all their disputatious but teeming glory.
Jonathan Woolf

Naxos Historical Great Pianists page



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Prima voce
Red Priest
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

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.