MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Cello Sonata No.1 in E minor Op.38 (1865) [26:03]
Cello Sonata No.2 in F Op.99 (1886)  [27:05]
Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Five Pieces in Folk Style Op.102 (1848) [15:22]
Clive Greensmith (cello)
Boris Berman (piano)
rec. Sprague Hall, Yale University, New Haven, August 2005 
BIDDULPH 802262 [68:35]
Experience Classicsonline

In his accompanying note to this release Clive Greensmith lays down a few performance imperatives. The disc is broadly “historically inspired” with pianist Boris Berman using an 1885 Bechstein baby grand, further noting that apparently Brahms preferred smaller grands and had an aversion to Viennese concert grands. Greensmith himself plays on his accustomed Strad but with four gut strings – allowing him to blend better with the piano and not, he avers, for slavish reasons. One result has been an avoidance of big sound generic performance and the establishment of different principles – plangent tone allied to long bow. Another has been a good balance between the two instruments, something that is exceptionally difficult to get right normally.

The proof is in the dessert. Here are performances of interior expressive eloquence. The E minor is spun with generous flexibility quite the opposite of the Russian School’s high wire act of projection and articulation. There’s no digging into the string. Instead utilising the gut strings sensitively Greensmith draws a wide range of tone colours. Occasionally a slightly nasal tone emerges in the more strenuous passagework but the balance between the two instruments remains excellent.  Greensmith and Berman catch the dance rhythms of Menuetto, the give and take between them finely judged. The rhythmic emphases are subtly deployed and the finale’s vibrant and exciting. The cello is recorded quite forwardly and Berman plays with rewarding control – his treble glinting dextrously.

The companion sonata opens with well projected fanfare themes. The sense of integration of the two instruments is certainly palpable. The slow movement is limpidly phrased and again introspective in tenor. Berman’s tonal gradations are laudable and Greensmith’s pizzicati ring out defiantly. Ensemble qualities are evident throughout this performance with the third movement’s rubati well attended to.

Coupled with the Brahms sonatas is Schumann’s Five Pieces in Folk Style Op.102. They range from the darkly raffish to the reflective to the humorous and toughly delineated  final one  (Starck und markiert). The recording is close enough to pick up Greensmith’s sniffs – those intakes of breath are especially noticeable when he has to deal with, say, the difficult-to-phrase fast sections of the third piece.

These are altogether subtle and variegated performances tending toward the interior. As such they’re diametrically opposed to, say, the Rostropovich/Serkin or du Pré/Barenboim approaches or going further back, the Feuermann recording of No. 1.

Jonathan Woolf



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos 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

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




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

Past 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.