One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

Some items
to consider

in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati








Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

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
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Samson François – The Chopin Recordings
Samson François (piano)
Monte Carlo National Opera Orchestra/Louis Frémaux
rec. 1954-69
full track details at end of review
EMI CLASSICS ‘ICON’ 4 55357 2 [10 CDs: 70:48 + 69:32 + 52:14 + 68:14 + 66:44 + 76:22 + 76:22 + 79:09 + 67:08 + 63:28 + 64:48]

Experience Classicsonline

The art of Samson François is celebrated in this all-Chopin box, which captures recordings made between 1954 and 1969. He’d first recorded in the late 1940s, but he was probably at his very finest in the mid-1950s. These ten CDs offer full value for money for the admirer and contain performances elevated and also quixotic, indeed problematic. The unevenness of his surviving recordings is well-known.
I’ve listened to the whole set, alternately marvelling and frowning, sometimes within the space of a single work. His was a highly personalised approach, and unlike, say, Rubinstein who retained a stylistic consistency and persuasive sovereignty over pretty much the whole of Chopin’s music, François seems more or less engaged dependent on form – his Nocturnes are very much better than his Mazurkas, for instance – and the date of recording; his earlier recordings are, on average, very much better than his later ones.
That being the case, in my experience at least, one can take a few brief looks at some of the repertoire to be found in this box of ten discs. The Ballades bring out the sense of dynamism and spontaneity in his playing, certainly in the First, whilst the calm deceptively tranquil opening of the second barely prepares one for the torrential outpouring to come. The fourth tends to rush its bars but it’s still compellingly exciting. The Scherzos are less good, the first in particular being over-stressed and somewhat too italicised. The Concertos are the Monte Carlo National Opera Orchestra/Louis Frémaux traversals, not the – by common consent – rather superior earlier, mono Georges Tzipine-conducted set. I certainly don’t find the opening movement of the E minor Allegro maestoso risoluto; it’s rather more Maestoso ponderosa.
The Etudes, strangely enough, don’t provoke very much seeming interest from him. He thumps in the first of Op.10, whilst the second is over-deliberated. The C sharp minor from the Op.25 set is rather too cool. Altogether he evinces a rather phlegmatic approach and what one assumes would produce in him moments of grandeur and heroism, tend to hang fire. The Nocturnes I find uneven. The E flat, Op.9 No.2, is not obviously ingratiating, and is cool and clear. But Op.15 No.1 is finely done, and for every rather plodding nocturne there’s another that evinces an essential integrity, a refusal to indulge the gestural, that does impress. Op.55 No.1 tends to limp along, though with a degree of implied intensity, but Op.62 No.2 just plods. His Op.28 Preludes can be wilful, even idiosyncratic, but his digital dexterity is never in doubt, indeed is potent. The ‘raindrop’ is powerfully characterised, whilst the G minor [No.22] is terse, tense and a true agitato.
The Polonaises vary. The first of the two Op.26 set is pulled out of shape, whilst the first of Op.40 sounds too effortful, though the second is much better. His Sonatas offer contrasts. The Second is rather brittle sounding in both tonal quality and engineering but has plenty of rich characterisation in recompense, not least a good funeral march. The companion Third sonata opens rather ponderously and its Largo is half-hearted. The Mazurkas really don’t cut the mustard and even the booklet writer can’t summon any enthusiasm for them. Nevertheless there are some things that come off; Op.30 No.2 has some rich charm, and the vocalised registers of Op.33/4 come over well.
I’ve stressed the negatives to give those unfamiliar with the pianist’s art a fair indication of what they’re getting, or what I think they’re getting. There are bigger François boxes out there embracing the whole width of his repertoire, but if it’s just his Chopin you’re after then you can’t beat this for price, or space-saving practicality.
Jonathan Woolf


Full Track Details
CD 1
Piano Concerto No.1 in E minor Op.11 [39:41]
Piano Concerto No.2 in F minor Op.21 [31:16]
CD 2
Polonaise N°1 En Ut Dièse Mineur Op.26 N°1 [6:26]
Polonaise N°2 En Mi Bémol Mineur Op.26 N°2 [7:49]
Polonaise N°3 En La Majeur Op.40 N°1 ''Militaire'' [4:39]
Polonaise N°4 En Ut Mineur Op.40 N°2 [5:53]
Polonaise N°5 En Fa Dièse Mineur Op.44 [1:12]
Polonaise N°6 En La Bémol Majeur Op.53 ''Héroïque'' [7:30]
Polonaise N°7 En La Bémol Majeur Op.61 ''Polonaise Brillante'' [12:23]
Andante Spianato Et Grande Polonaise En Mi Bémol Majeur Op.22 [13:41]
CD 3
Polonaise Posthume En Re Min Op.71 No.1 [4:38]
Polonaise Posthume En Si Bem Majeur Op.71 No.2 [6:35]
Polonaise Posthume En Fa Min Op.71 No.3 [6:10]
Fantaisie En Fa Mineur Op.49 [13:15]
Tarentelle En La Bemol Majeur Op.43 [3:35]
Barcarolle En Fa Diese Majeur Op.60 [8:26]
Rondo Pour 2 Pianos En Ut Majeur Op.73 [9:12]
CD 4
Ballade N°1 En Sol Mineur Op.23 [7:37]
Ballade N°2 En Fa Majeur Op.38 [6:45]
Ballade N°3 En La Bémol Majeur Op.47 [7:00]
Ballade N°4 En Fa Mineur Op.52[ 9:15]
Scherzo N°1 En Si Mineur Op.20 [8:23]
Scherzo N°2 En Si Bémol Mineur Op.31[10:70]
Scherzo N°3 En Ut Dièse Mineur Op.39 [6:39]
Scherzo N°4 En Mi Majeur Op.54 [11:51]
CD 5
Valse N°1 En Mi Bémol Majeur Op.18 ''Grande Valse Brillante'' [4:58]
Valse N°2 En La Bémol Majeur Op.34 N°1 ''Valse Brillante'' [5:20]
Valse N°3 En La Mineur Op.34 N°2 [4:46]
Valse N°4 En Fa Majeur Op.34 N°3 ''Valse Brillante'' [2:31]
Valse N°5 En La Bémol Majeur Op.42 [4:24]
Valse N°6 En Ré Bémol Majeur Op.64 N°1 [1:53]
Valse N°7 En Ut Dièse Mineur Op.64 N°2 [2:54]
Valse N°8 En La Bémol Majeur Op.64 N°3 [4:80]
Valse N°9 En La Bémol Majeur Op.69 N°1 [4:17]
Valse N°10 En Si Mineur Op.69 N°2 [3:23]
Valse N°11 En Sol Bémol Majeur Op.70 N°1 [1:57]
Valse N°12 En Fa Mineur Op.70 N°2 [3:10]
Valse N°13 En Ré Bémol Majeur Op.70 N°3 [1:54]
Valse N°14 En Min Mineur Op. Posthume [3:20]
Impromptu N°1 En La Bémol Majeur Op.29 [3:40]
Impromptu N°2 En Fa Dièse Majeur Op.36 [5:35]
Impromptu N°3 En Sol Bémol Majeur Op.51 [4:18]
Impromptu N°4 En Ut Dièse Mineur Op.66 ''Fantaisie-Impromptu'' [4:18]
CD 6
Sonate No.2 En Si Bemol Mineur Op.35 [18:42]
Sonate No.3 En Si Mineur Op.58 [25:57]
4 Mazurkas Op.6
N°1 En Fa Dièse Mineur [1:33]
N°2 En Ut Dièse Mineur [1:36]
N°3 En Mi Majeur [1:33]
N°4 En Mi Bémol Mineur [0:28]
Mazurka No.5 En Si Bemol Majeur Op.7 No.1 [1:10]
Mazurka No.6 En La Mineur Op.7 No.2 [1:23]
Mazurka No.7 En Fa Mineur Op.7 No.3 [2:80]
Mazurka No.8 En La Bemol Majeur Op.7 No.4 [0:50]
Mazurka No.9 En Ut Majeur Op.7 No.5 [0:30]
Mazurka No.10 En Si Bemol Majeur Op.17 No.1 [1:46]
Mazurka No.11 En Ut Majeur Op.17 No.2 [1:55]
Mazurka No.12 En La Bemol Majeur Op.17 No.3 [3:32]
Mazurka No.13 En La Mineur Op.17 No.4 [4:10]
Mazurka No.14 En Sol Mineur Op.24 No.1 [1:42]
Mazurka No.15 En Ut Majeur Op.24 No.2 [1:50]
Mazurka No.16 En Sol Mineur Op.24 No.3 [1:70]
Mazurka No.17 En Si Bemol Mineur Op.24 No.4 [3:48]
CD 7
Mazurka No.18 En Ut Mineur Op.30 No.1 [1:27]
Mazurka No.19 En Si Mineur Op.30 No.2 [1:13]
Mazurka No.20 En Re Bemol Majeur Op.30 No.3 [2:14]
Mazurka No.21 En Ut Diese Mineur Op.30 No.4 [3:21]
Mazurka No.22 En Sol Diese Mineur Op.33 No.1 [1:38]
Mazurka No.23 En Re Majeur Op.33 No.2 [2:19]
Mazurka No.24 En Ut Majeur Op.33 No.3 [1:42]
Mazurka No.25 En Si Majeur Op.33 No.4 [4:41]
Mazurka No.26 En Ut Diese Mineur Op.41 No.1 [3:17]
Mazurka No.27 En Mi Mineur Op.41 No.2 [2:21]
Mazurka No.28 En Si Majeur Op.41 No.3 [1:80]
Mazurka No.29 En La Bemol Majeur Op.41 No.4 [1:42]
Mazurka No.30 En Sol Majeur Op.50 No.1 [1:57]
Mazurka No.31 En La Bemol Majeur Op.50 No.2 [2:16]
Mazurka No.32 En Ut Diese Mineur Op.50 No.3 [4:25]
Mazurka No.33 En Si Majeur Op.56 No.1 [3:32]
Mazurka No.34 En Ut Majeur Op.56 No.2 [1:29]
Mazurka No.35 En Si Majeur Op.56 No.3 [5:45]
Mazurka No.36 En La Mineur Op.59 No.1 [2:50]
Mazurka No.37 En La Bemol Majeur Op.59 No.2 [2:29]
Mazurka No.38 En Fa Diese Mineur Op.59 No.3 [3:18]
Mazurka No.39 En Si Majeur Op.63 No.1 [2:13]
Mazurka No.40 En Fa Mineur Op.63 No.2 [1:32]
Mazurka No.41 En Ut Diese Mineur Op.63 No.3 [1:43]
Mazurka No.42 En Sol Majeur Op.67 No.1 [1:14]
Mazurka No.43 En Sol Mineur Op.67 No.2 [1:20]
Mazurka No.44 En Ut Majeur Op.67 No.3 [1:33]
Mazurka No.45 En La Mineur Op.67 No.4 [1:36]
Mazurka No.46 En Ut Majeur Op.68 No.1 [1:14]
Mazurka No.47 En La Mineur Op.68 No.2 [2:38]
Mazurka No.48 En Fa Majeur Op.68 No.3 [1:19]
Mazurka No.49 En Fa Mineur Op.68 No.4 [1:47]
Mazurka No.50 En La Mineur [2:50]
Mazurka No.51 En La Mineur [3:30]
CD 8
Etudes Op.10
Etudes Op.25
Nouvelle Etude No.1 En Fa Mineur [2:00]
Nouvelle Etude No.2 En Re Bemol Majeur [1:46]
Nouvelle Etude No. En La Bemol Majeur [2:16]
CD 9
Nocturne No.1 En Si Bémol Mineur Op.9 No.1 [5:14]
Nocturne No.2 En Mi Bemol Majeur Op.9 No.2 [4:15]
Nocturne No.3 En Si Majeur Op.9 No.3 [6:18]
Nocturne No.4 En Fa Majeur Op.15 No.1 [3:48]
Nocturne No.5 En Fa Diese Majeur Op.15 No.2 [3:33]
Nocturne No.6 En Sol Mineur Op.15 No.3 [4:40]
Nocturne No.7 En Ut Diese Mineur Op.27 No.1 [4:53]
Nocturne No.8 En Ré Bémol Majeur Op.27 No.2 [5:33]
Nocturne No.9 En Si Majeur Op.32 No.1 [3:59]
Nocturne No.10 En La Bemol Majeur Op.32 No.2 [4:55]
Nocturne No.11 En Sol Mineur Op.37 No.1 [4:56]
Nocturne No.12 En Sol Majeur Op.37 No.2 [5:19]
Nocturne No.13 En Ut Mineur Op.48 No.1 [6:33]
CD 10
Nocturne No.14 En Fa Dièse Mineur Op.48 No.2 [6:19]
Nocturne No.15 En Fa Mineur Op.55 No.1 [4:25]
Nocturne No.16 En Mi Bemol Majeur Op.55 No.2 [3:59]
Nocturne No.17 En Si Majeur Op.62 No.1 [5:49]
Nocturne No.18 En Mi Majeur Op.62 No.2 [5:21]
Nocturne No.19 En Mi Mineur Op.72 No.1 [3:20]
Preludes Op.28
Samson François (piano)
Monte Carlo National Opera Orchestra/Louis Frémaux
rec. 1954-69
EMI CLASSICS ‘ICON’ 4 55357 2 [10 CDs: 70:48 + 69:32 + 52:14 + 68:14 + 66:44 + 76:22 + 76:22 + 79:09 + 67:08 + 63:28 + 64:48]













































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

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.