Aureole etc.




Nimbus on-line




If it’s the Czech works you’re after, do not hesitate

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


CD REVIEW

Some items
to consider

 


Enjoy the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra wherever you are. App available for iOS and Android


Tudor 7188


Vaughan Williams Symphony 3 etc.


Lyrita New Recording


Lyrita Premiere Recordings

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage

Lyrita 4CDs £16 incl.postage


Decca Phase 4 - 40CDs


Judith Bailey, George Lloyd


BAX Orchestral pieces


CASKEN Violin Concerto

Schumann Symphonies Rattle


Complete Brahms
Bargain price

 

 

 

 

alternatively
CD: Crotchet


Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Fantasy in c minor, Op.17 [31:54]
Symphonic Studies, Op.13 [26:10]
Alfred Brendel (piano)
rec. Vienna, 1966. ADD.
ALTO ALC1046 [58:04]
Experience Classicsonline

The qualities of these and other Brendel recordings, made by Vox and Vanguard in Vienna in the early- and mid-1960s, are so well known as almost to need no further recommendation from me.
 
I remember the excitement caused by the first releases of Brendel’s Mozart on World Record Club. These subsequently became more widely available on the Turnabout label at 19/11 (99p). Several of these formed the nucleus of my Mozart Piano Concerto recordings until the changeover to CD.  His performances of Sonata No.8 (K310), the Fantasy in c (K396), Piano Concertos 9 and 14 with the Solisti di Zagreb, and other solo pieces remain available on an inexpensive 2-CD Vanguard Archive set, ATMCD1890.  Regis offer a budget-price CD of Piano Concertos 17 and 27 with the Vienna Volksoper Orchestra and Paul Angerer, one of those Vox recordings that first made the headlines in its WRC incarnation (RRC1154). Tuxedo, in the same price range, offers Concertos 22 and 25 from those early recordings (TUXCD1046).  There’s also a low-price 2-CD Vox set of Concertos 19, 20, the 2-piano Concerto, etc., on CDX5177.
 
It soon became apparent that Brendel’s talents were not just for Mozart: his Liszt, Beethoven and Schubert also began to attract attention.  Regis have a CD of the complete Schubert Impromptus from the Vox era (RRC1019).  He was soon taken up by Philips, which gave his recordings wider availability.  I particularly treasure his ADD Schubert recordings from this early period with Philips. These include, notably the Impromptus (Philips mid-price 442 543 2) ‘Wanderer’ Fantasia (currently unavailable?) and the late Piano Sonatas, now on 2-CD Philips Duo 438 703 2 - in some ways preferable to his later digital remakes.
 
The budget label Alto, too, has played its part in making Brendel’s early recordings available. They have a CD of Schubert’s Piano Sonatas Nos.15 and 19 and 16 German Dances (ALC1040), another Brendel recording which has long formed a valued part of my collection in its earlier Vanguard CD incarnation.  Now this new reissue serves to remind us of the virtues of Brendel’s Schumann.
 
Competition in the Fantasie is much stronger now than it was in 1966 and Brendel’s performance will not be to all tastes.  Though he famously declares that he plays ‘plastered’, this doesn’t mean that his performances are inebriated, merely that he protects his finger tips with strips of sticking plaster.  In fact his version of what many regard as the central plank of the romantic piano repertoire is too cool, too Beethovenian for some.  Personally, I like the way that he reminds us of the extent to which this work stands in the line of development from Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. Others will prefer Sviatoslav Richter, recently available in this same, lowest price-bracket on EMI Encore.
 
Surprisingly, this Encore CD seems to be no longer available. It’s well worth looking for remainders or second-hand copies (5 575233 2, with Faschingsschwank and Papillons). Richter’s version of the Fantasie remains available on a slightly more expensive EMI Great Artists CD (5 62960 2), with the Schubert ‘Wanderer’ Fantasia.  You can download the Encore recording from iTunes but, at £7.99, that’s little cheaper than buying the mid-price version.  There’s also a classic Pollini recording on mid-price DG Originals, also aptly coupled with Schubert’s ‘Wanderer’ Fantasia (447 451 2), available from iTunes for £7.99 – again, a very small saving over buying the CD.
 
I’d describe Brendel’s playing as reflective rather than cool.  For my taste this is appropriate for a composer who famously considered himself to have an introspective Eusebius side to his personality as well as an impetuous Florestan. The Fantasie, a product of his love for Clara, contains as much Sehnsucht, or longing, as passion. 
 
The opening movement is marked Durchaus phantastisch und leidenschäftlich zu vertragen, stressing the fantasy and suffering inherent in the music.  Brendel certainly captures both this and the energy in the second movement. Durchaus energisch, wholly energetic, or energetic throughout, says the direction – so it’s not all Eusebius here.  There’s passion in his playing, too, where appropriate.  At times his performance of the final movement brings Beethoven’s Pathétique Sonata to mind.  If it weren’t for those reservations that I know exist in some quarters, I’d make this Bargain of the Month.
 
Richter is slower than Brendel in the outer movements and considerably faster in the second but I never felt that Brendel’s tempi were anything other than right within the context of his overall interpretation.  The difference between his 8:15 and Richter’s 6:45 and Leif Ove Andsnes’s 6:54, on another EMI recording, in the second movement is not reflected in any sense that Brendel is too slow here – as I’ve said, there is actually plenty of energy.  As so often, tempo is less important than keeping the music moving, which Brendel certainly does.
 
This music is susceptible to a wide variety of emphases and tempi: the highly regarded version by Andsnes on EMI, very recently reissued on budget-price Encore (2 35741 2, with the Piano Sonata No.1) is actually faster than Brendel in the first movement and almost exactly in agreement with him in his tempo for the finale.  If you can tolerate the obtrusive advertising on each track, you can listen to this Andsnes version free on We7.com.  Yet, though Andsnes doesn’t lose sight of the phantastisch and leidenschäftlich elements of the opening movement, I think Brendel captures them slightly better. I don’t think, however, that you’d go far wrong with the Encore reissue and you may well prefer the coupling to Brendel’s
 
You can also hear Michel Dalberto’s version (Warner Apex, with the Abegg Variations) free on We7, with tempi much closer to Brendel’s than most of the competition.
 
The other rival in this lowest price-bracket is Alicia deLarrocha on Eloquence 476 9910, which Christopher Howell found too middle-of-the-road and not well enough recorded – see review.
 
Few will buy this Alto reissue for the sake of the coupling, the Etudes Symphoniques, but these are well worth hearing; Brendel’s playing is idiomatic and sympathetic and he brings the house down in No.12 on the final track.
 
Prospective buyers need have no serious reservations about the quality of the 1966 recording, the age of which Alto make no attempt to hide. It doesn’t sound fresh-minted but it’s much more than serviceable.  The notes, too, are short but serviceable.  For me this is a marvellous reissue, but bear in mind those reservations which some have expressed and the availability of the Andsnes reissue in the same price-bracket.
 
Brian Wilson
 

 


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
Atoll
CDAccord
Cameo Classics
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample
 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

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

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      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

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

Nostalgia

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

Comment
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

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
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
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
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
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
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.