52,943 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  


Some items
to consider

Chopin Edition 17CDs
now available separately
£11 post-free anywhere


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

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets


Recordings of the Month


Jean-Baptiste LEMOYNE

Enescu Ravel Britten

Debussy Images etc.

53 Studies on Chopin Études 1
Konstantin Scherbakov (piano)



Che fai tù? - Villanelles

Cyrillus KREEK
The suspended harp of Babel

violin concertos - Ibragimova

Peteris VASKS
Viola concerto - Maxim Rysanov

The Complete Lotte Schöne




alternatively AmazonUK  

Myra Hess Ė Historic Broadcast Recordings
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Carnaval Op.9 (1834) [26:38]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Piano Quartet in F minor Op. 34 (1861-64) [38:36]
Myra Hess (piano)
Griller Quartet
rec.  BBC Broadcasting House Studios, London, 13 October 1950 (Schumann), National Gallery, London, 25 August 1942 (Brahms)
APR 5646 [65:36]

The release of this APR disc will cause a problem for the collector who knows that this performance of Carnaval has been recently released on BBC Legends BBCL4201-2. To ease matters Iíll reprise my comments on the performance and then add a note on the transfer questions.
Hessís visit to the BBC studios produced a performance that doesnít differ materially in most respects from what we know of her earlier playing. Naturally, as with all great players, there are minor differences Ė chord weighting, voice leading, a certain degree of pedalling as well. But her conception remains as consistently illuminating and perceptive, as wholly musical and free of artifice as ever it was. One would only point to a couple of details to illuminate the way in which Hess had rethought detail Ė or maybe it would be more judicious to say that she had rethought detail on that particular broadcast. Eusebius does however show a tightening up of tempo and also therefore in its relationship to the preceding Valse noble and to Florestan with which it is explicitly contrasted. In her BBC broadcast Hess deliberately strips back the overt romanticism of her 1938 performance to present something somewhat more linear, less heavily chorded, less mellowly pedalled; it unfolds therefore with a somewhat clearer-eyed strength. In these small particularities we can follow, as far as is possible, Hessís lifelong association with Schumann and with Carnaval in particular.
Of the two transfers that of the BBC is greatly to be preferred. Itís still not wonderful but is superior in all respects to that of APR who have clearly not been able to source the original broadcast tapes Ė theirs seem to be second generation. APRís transfer is more constricted in frequency response throughout. If itís Carnival you want you should be directed to the BBC.
There is of course a ďBut.Ē

The National Gallery Brahms Piano Quartet performance has been re-broadcast by the BBC in recent years. Here Hess joined the Griller Quartet who had supplanted the disbanded London as Britainís leading string quartet. No real apologies need be made for the sound quality here, which is perfectly acceptable for a 1942 broadcast. The most important feature is the performanceís appearance on a commercial label available to a wide audience.
It wouldnít especially matter were the performance merely adequate but itís not. Itís superb. In strictly linear or temporal terms it uncannily matches the 1950 performance by the Budapest Quartet and Clifford Curzon. In fact it matches, in every movement, almost to the second. Remarkable. But of course emphases differ materially. The Griller had a leaner and wirier sound than the Budapest. They were also not obviously as extrovert as the Russian foursome, nor as inclined to sentimentality. This gives their reading a core purpose, a powerful and quivering intensity. True, the sound can be a trifle congested and very occasionally distorts and surface noise increases or decreases dependent on where weíve reached in the acetates. One can hear an acetate switch in one of the movements but itís not especially obtrusive. Yes, the strings do go sharp now and then but this is a really powerful performance and itís intense without becoming glutinous. And itís gutsy but never over garnished. Definitely one for the collectors.
Which leaves one with a dilemma. The BBC has the better transfer of the Schumann but the Brahms is a unique document. I do know that if I were a Hess collector - and I am - I would need this APR.
Jonathan Woolf


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

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

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 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.