One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

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

AmazonUK AmazonUS


Michael Bilson plays
Jan Ladislav DUSSEK (1760-1812)
Piano Sonata in E flat, Op. 44/C 178, “The Farewell” (1799) [34:31]
Johann Baptist CRAMER (1771-1858)
Eleven Variations on “Ein Mädchen oder Weibchen” from Mozart’s Magic Flute (no date available) [6:10]
Franz Joseph HAYDN (1732-1809)
Piano Sonata No. 62 in E flat, Hob.XVI:52 (1794) [21:10]
Michael Bilson (piano)
rec. Glenn Gould Studio, CBC, Toronto, Canada, 11-12 September 2007. DDD
BRIDGE 9263 [61:59]


Experience Classicsonline

This is Michael Bilson’s first recording for the enterprising Bridge label. One looks forward to many more to come. Bilson’s discography is extensive, including Mozart Piano Concertos with the English Baroque Soloists under John Eliot Gardiner. His high standards are as secure as ever.

There is already an excellent recording of Dussek’s “Farewell” Sonata by Markus Becker on cpo 777 020-2. This is an all-Dussek release recorded in 2003 that also includes the sonatas in F sharp minor, Op. 61 and the A flat, Op. 64. The piece is a farewell from the composer to his family at the point at which he had to flee England due to his creditors - not the most romantic basis for a work’s label. And yet, the result from Dussek’s pen is a work that will surely intrigue and delight in equal measure. Some elements of the writing look forward significantly from the composition date.

Becker plays on a modern instrument. His reading is ever stylish and includes moments of humour as well as real depth and charm. The Radio Bremen recording is exemplary. Here on Bridge, Bilson plays his entire recital on a Chris Meane 2003 replica of a 1798 5 ½-octave English pianoforte by Longman and Clementi. The more demanding passages sound, if anything, even more powerful in Bilson’s hands. He, too, can charm. Bilson even achieves further depth than Becker in the Molto Adagio e sostenuto (10:39 against Becker’s 7:53); his legato is immensely impressive, as is his carrying of cantabile melody around the six-minute mark. In contrast, the Tempo di Menuetto verges on the violent, imbuing Dussek with a backbone many would hesitate to credit him with. The finale, too, betrays an intensity of utterance that is quite remarkable. The rather close recording helps to draw the listener in. The piece itself is well worth getting to know. Its strengths seem to grow on each listening. 

This appears to be the only currently available recording of the Cramer. Although only six minutes long, it is a skilful piece of many delights and acts as a lovely intermezzo between the two major sonatas of this release. 

Haydn’s three great piano Sonatas date from the period of the composer’s 1794-5 visit to London. Bilson recorded the E flat on a Walter-type piano for Nonesuch in the 1980s (currently unavailable). He speaks of the revelatory effect of playing it on an English piano, about how it emerges as a clear concert piece - as opposed to music intended for domestic/private music-making. Cleverly, Bilson points to Haydn’s use of the Neapolitan relation in this work. This occurs most obviously in the placing of the slow movement in E major, but elsewhere also. It’s a relationship much beloved by Dussek. The performance itself is full of wit and yet clearly reflects the sheer scope of Haydn’s canvas. Those who prefer modern instruments may wish to cuddle their Brendel (416 3652) but Bilson makes a wonderful case for a more authentic instrument approach. His evocation of horn figures is most effective, as is his laying bare of the loneliness at the heart of the Adagio, where repeated notes can seem to edge on desperation. The repeated notes are re-contextualised in the finale, where they generate energy - the spiky accents stab most effectively here, also. 

Bilson’s own booklet notes are a model of their kind. He includes reactions to various instruments as well as music examples and pointing out similarities between the Dussek and Beethoven’s Op. 81a Sonata, a work the Duessk precedes by a decade. He considers the Cramer Variations almost as an afterthought at the end of the booklet and; although it is the slightest work, it is actually sandwiched in playing order between the two sonatas on the recording itself. A recording of Cramer’s Piano Concerto No. 5 was part of the Turnabout LP catalogue and can be found on CD reissue (Turnabout 30371, coupled with two works by Hummel); Howard Shelley also recorded a full disc of Cramer concertos (CHAN10005). 

A minor point: on my review copy, the name ‘Haydn’ is mis-spelled as ‘Hayden’ on the CD spine - it is correct elsewhere.

Colin Clarke


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount




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.