One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,928 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews



Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom


Buy through MusicWeb
for £16.50 postage paid World-wide.

Musicweb Purchase button


Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
CD 1
Sonata for Cello and Piano Op. 40 (1934) [27:12]
Sonata for Cello and Piano Op. 147 (arr. Daniel Shafran) (1975) [31:25]
CD 2
Concerto for Cello No. 1 Op. 107 (1959) [29:35]
Concerto for Cello No. 2 Op. 126 (1966) [32:44]
Viviane Spanoghe (cello); Arthur de Groote (piano)
Sofia Soloists Symphony Orchestra/Emil Tabakov
rec. Concert Hall of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Liège, July 1992 (Sonata No. 1); Concert Hall of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Brussels, 2008 (Sonata No. 2); Sofia, Bulgaria, April 1984 (Concertos)
TALENT DOM3810 12-13 [58:37 + 62:19]

Experience Classicsonline

This disc contains what are billed as Shostakovich’s concertos and sonatas for cello. In order to have two sonatas we have to include Daniel Shafran’s cello arrangement of the Viola Sonata. But this two-disc set could also be titled Homage à Viviane Spanoghe, especially given that the concerto recordings were made early in her career and the sonata recordings more recently. Together they make for a survey of the work of this fine Belgian cellist.
Shostakovich’s Cello Sonata [No.1] was written at one of the happiest times of his life and this is evident throughout. The opening allegretto is very songful, with occasional hints of disjointed harmony. In many ways it sounds like something from Paris in the twenties, although perhaps this is partially due to the soloist’s Belgian origins. In any case she provides clear and simple playing, with beautiful use of the cello’s lower register. In the second movement the playing is more rigorous and here de Groote contributes equally to the overall sound, evidence of their long-term musical partnership The slow movement is also written almost evenly for the two players. But here I felt that the performers did not get as much out of this movement. The allegro finale is more like the satirical Shostakovich we know so well. Spanoghe captures this contrast extremely well and her passage work towards the movement’s end is exemplary.
Shostakovich’s First Cello Concerto dates from more than twenty years later and is one of his more tragic works. The scoring is for the interesting combination of strings, double woodwinds, one horn, timpani and celesta, plus the soloist, and is in four movements. The first movement is very driven, based on the famous DSCH motif, while the second is lyrical and affecting. Our soloist plays extremely vigorously in the first movement, presenting the various themes which eventually combine to make up the development. Tabakov is relentless here in his accompaniment. The moderato second movement starts off lyrically, but seems to freeze into reminiscences of the Symphonies Nos. 7 and 8. This leads to a tragic second theme that repeatedly tries to raise itself, but never succeeds. Spanoghe has a little trouble achieving the correct degree of intensity for the first section, but definitely succeeds with the second. What follows is amazing - a 148 bar cadenza that is a movement in itself, based on some of the second movement material, combining the tragic elements with some assertion at the end. Spanoghe never lets up in intensity, or in beauty of tone. The fourth movement follows directly, with the DSCH motif returning in a drunken fashion. This is followed by a satiric version of one of Stalin’s favorite songs and then the DSCH theme almost like a waltz before the whole thing stops dead. Spanoghe keeps this all together so that none of the argument is lost.
The Second Cello Concerto started out as a symphony and retains some symphonic elements. Like the previous Concerto it was written for Rostropovich. The opening largo is a brooding and features an unwinding line that steadily becomes sadder, with bitter harmonies and a plaintive three-note melody underneath everything else. The second subject is a sort of dance for cello with percussion. Spanoghe’s staccato playing and glissandi are fine here. The middle movement, an allegretto, is partially based on an Odessa street-song, with woodwinds prominent and the cello elaborating almost to the point of hysteria - I felt that both soloist and orchestra were a little bit lost here. In the last movement material from the first is treated almost like a military march before a lyrical theme leads to a dance of death and then back to the lyric elements, but this time much sadder. The ending prefigures the sounds and quotations that feature in the Symphony No. 15. Spanoghe’s use of the cello’s lower register is wonderful here. However, all involved did better with the Concerto No.1.
As noted the Sonata for Viola was arranged by Daniel Shafran for cello and loses none of its effectiveness thereby. This was the composer’s last work, written after a heart attack and a long stay in a sanatorium. It is quite gloomy. The first movement begins arrestingly with plucked strings accompanied by the piano. De Groote is quite eerie here and Spanoghe summons a wide range of colors in the first section proper before moving into the harrowing second subject. Both artists produce an even more effective recapitulation before the opening material returns. The second movement is an allegretto, at first songlike, then becoming a perpetuum mobile. Several other moods are manifested before the movement finally just dies way. Both musicians show excellent use of staccato, yet are also fine in the lyrical parts. The final adagio is begun by the cello alone, with the piano eventually entering in a sinister fashion. The first theme almost struggles to assert itself and then leads into a reminiscence of the Moonlight Sonata which recurs many times. Other material also appears and the movement is both beautiful and tragic. The music becomes progressively sparer in texture and feeling until the gentle ending. Both performers do well in this movement, though they seem to favor the lyrical over the tragic elements.
Given their age the concerto recordings are quite serviceable and Tabakov is excellent at getting fine details from the score as well as the genuine “Shostakovich sound”. The much more recent chamber recordings have a life-like and bright sound. Unfortunately, the text notes are rather skimpy. I think I have given an idea of the quality of the performances and it only needs to be added that this set is for those who like their Shostakovich, especially in the concertos, not too dark and gloomy and definitely played with finesse. As such, this is a highly desirable set.

William Kreindler

see also review by Nick Barnard (March RECORDING OF THE MONTH)


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 Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

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

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month


Chopin Bruce Liu

Ingeneri Volume 2

Mondonville - Titon et L'Aurore

Telemann - French Cantatas 1


March 2022

Brahms Symphony 4
MacMillan Larghetto for Orchestra

Bruch Violin Concertos

Debussy Preludes Book 2

Jan-Peter de GRAAFF
Cello Concertos

La Nuit étoilé
Berlioz. Holmes




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.