Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

Free classical music concerts by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.


Moravec - Twelfth Night Recital
15%off £17.21 (until Dec 7)

Katerina Englichová - harp
15%0ff £10.83 (until Dec 7)

  • 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

Sibelius Symphonies Maazel
4CDs + Blu-ray audio
Special Price £36.75

RVW A Sea Symphony - Elder

Shostakovich Symphony 10 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem

Dvorak Opera Premiere

Grieg, Mendelssohn sonatas




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


CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline


Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46 (1874/88) [15:34]
Peer Gynt Suite No. 2, Op. 55 (1891-2) [17:15]
Funeral March in Memory of Rikard Nordraak (1866/92) [7:52]
Old Norwegian Melody with Variations, Op. 51 (1891/1904) [24:29]
Bell Ringing, Op. 54 No. 6 (1904) [3:59]
Bergen Philharmonic/Ole Kristian Ruud
rec. Grieg Hall, Bergen, Norway, February 2003, June 2004, November 2005
BIS BIS-SACD-1591 [70:50]
Experience Classicsonline

The popular Peer Gynt suites are the featured works here - even an audiophile enterprise like BIS has to consider the market. This is probably also the first time since the 1950s - when Odd Gruner-Hegge's performance with the Oslo Philharmonic appeared in RCA's budget Camden line - that a Norwegian conductor and orchestra have recorded any of the Peer Gynt music together.
Ole Kristian Ruud's readings have their moments. The Bergen orchestra's fine principal woodwinds - the crisp flute, the vibrant oboe, the tender, caressing clarinet - make something special out of the over-familiar Morning Mood. I enjoyed the warm accounts of Åse's Death and Ingrid's Lament, both played as broad, flowing andantes rather than funereal trudges. Best is Peer Gynt's Homecoming: Ruud makes the turbulent storm music, bordering on movie-melodrama stuff, taut and convincing, and the woodwinds again produce a lovely transition into the orchestra-only version of Solvejg's Song. But the conductor doesn't, or perhaps can't, find anything special in the marches - In the Hall of the Mountain King and the Arabian Dance - although he shapes them well. Overall, these native sons and daughters fail to capture the music's folklike flavor as did Fjeldstad (Decca), a Norwegian, drawing clear, airy textures from the LSO; and Berglund (EMI), a Finn (not even a Scandinavian!) eliciting crisp, lilting rhythms from the Staatskapelle Dresden.
No, it's the rest of the program that makes this disc a must-have, particularly the Old Norwegian Melody with Variations, which, it's safe to say, has never sounded so good, either musically or technically. The clear, wistful theme is longer and more discursive than that of, say, the Enigma Variations, and undergoes a comparable range of transformations. Some episodes are buoyant and rhythmic, others searching and expansive; we even hear a gracious waltz and a bit of a military march along the way. With the composer adopting what is, for him, an unusually adept and diverse instrumental palette - not just in his blended timbres, but in the layered textures - this piece becomes a marvelous showcase for the orchestra.
Grieg originally conceived the Funeral March in Memory of Rikard Nordraak as a piano piece. In his wind-band arrangement - there also exists a transcription for full orchestra, by Johan Halvorsen - the full, dark sonority at the start, blending chalumeau clarinets with other low instruments, sets the right tone; in short order, a single poised, elegiac trumpet brightens the texture, if not the mood. In the central section, Grieg deploys the reeds judiciously as a contrast while avoiding the wheezy sound produced in writing where large clarinet sections dominate the high range.
Finally, the transcription of Bell Ringing, another piano original, is effective. If the orchestra can't replicate the chiaroscuro effects that a pianist can create with adroit pedalling, it compensates with more natural sustaining power. After several minutes of Grieg's pre-Impressionist "wash" of textures, however, the concluding chordal cadence is startling.
I cannot over-praise the playing of the Bergen Philharmonic. I've already cited the excellent woodwinds. The strings produce a soft-edged, velvety sound that is especially fetching in the quieter pages and in moments of delicacy, and they spin out lovely crescendos and decrescendos. The brasses are secure and clean, yet unfailingly tactful.
The engineering is mostly superb -- the trombone solos register with particular depth, while the softer playing retains an almost tangible presence. Here and there, as so frequently happens nowadays, timpani rolls tend to obscure orchestral detail -- but I only heard this in frontal stereo; perhaps the problem disappears in surround playback.
Stephen Francis Vasta


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


Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Pat and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

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.