Schubert sonatas

Newest Releases

Piano solo and duet
  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



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

CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS

Max REGER (1873-1916)
Clarinet Sonata Op. 49 No.1 in A flat [19:00]
Clarinet Sonata Op. 49 No.2 in F sharp minor [18:12]
Albumblatt [1:29]
Florent Hťau (clarinet)
Patrick Zygmanowski (piano)
rec. líEglise de Bon Secours, Paris XI, 1-4 July 2002. DDD
Experience Classicsonline

The clarinet sonatas of Brahms were the catalyst for Regerís first forays into the genre. His Op.49 pair was written as a direct response to his first hearing Brahmsí Op. 120. They were written fast, and were completed within just a few days of this first acquaintance with their model. The Brahms connection is a useful starting point for performers and listeners alike when coming to this music. Regerís textures are more dense and his modulations more daring, but Brahmsí disciplined approach to melodic phrasing and chordal voicing is at the heart of Regerís aesthetic.

Florent Hťau and Patrick Zygmanowski regularly fall back on Brahmsian practice in their performance of the Op. 49 sonatas, and no more so than in the opening movement of the second. The density of Regerís accompaniments are here countered by a confident and strident clarinet sound, firmly intoning the melodic line to imbue the music with a sense of inevitability that is pure Brahms.

The speed at which these works were written was not unusual for Reger, and many performers of his chamber music have taken this as a licence to play his music in a throwaway, slightly dismissive style, concentrating, like the composer himself, on the bigger picture rather than the numerous details. One occasional consequence is a lack of rubato or shaping of phrases. Hťau and Zygmanowski are clearly aware of this danger, and their approach to phrasing is scrupulous. They take both sonatas at a relatively fast pace, but regularly hold back on the tempo to shape phrases and sections. Most of this rubato, it must be said, is not mentioned in the score, and is often taking to extremes. However, the flow of the music is never interrupted; Regerís bigger picture is always given the foreground, and the performers know just how far they can stretch their indulgences.

What is less forgivable is the lack of dynamic variety, especially given the precision with which Reger notates his dynamics. The rubato shaping of phrases in the recording substitutes Regerís similarly painstaking approach to do the same thing with dynamics. Admittedly, the score often calls for impractical and sudden dynamic changes within fast and complex passages, but the performers seem to treat the notated dynamics as optional. Perhaps we are all better off without the fff clarinet passages in the top register, but the pp entries and phrase endings below the stave lose their magic when played mf.

The recording was made in a church acoustic, which suits the clarinet better than the piano. Hťau has a distinctive, woody sound, which benefits from the roundness of tone afforded by the warm resonance. The piano, by contrast, lacks definition in this environment, and the susceptibility of Regerís complex textures to congestion and muddying regularly becomes apparent. The acoustic also has the effect of amplifying the upper bass register, which also works to the detriment of Regerís dense chord voicing.

But for all this, the overall impression is of the performers coming to this relatively unusual repertoire as an opportunity rather than as a problem to solve. Their daring rubato speaks of a confident approach to the interpretation of the music, an interpretation that excels in logic and coherence. The sense of energy and momentum they bring to each movement seems intended to dispel reservations that audiences may have about the density of Regerís textures. It will probably work, but they would win more converts to Regerís cause with a little more attention to the details of his scores.

Gavin Dixon














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.