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


Gustav MAHLER (1860-1911)
Symphony No. 3 in D minor [95:24]
Dagmar Peckova (mezzo);
Women of the Rundfunkchor Berlin; Knabenchor Hannover
Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin/Kent Nagano.
rec. 1999, Philharmonie, Berlin.
WARNER CLASSICS APEX 2564 681617 [32:11 + 63:11]

Experience Classicsonline

In my lifetime, I have watched Mahler travel from fringe to mainstream. Now where to go? One of the more interesting developments over the last couple of decades is the emergence of a new school of Mahler conducting. The early years of the Mahler boom were sufficiently dominated by the emotional performances of Leonard Bernstein to keep other alternatives from seeming much more than toned-down versions of the same approach. But in the void following Bernsteinís passing, Pierre Boulez and Christoph von Dohnanyi spearheaded cool, objective approaches that have become a significant and influential counterbalance to the visceral Bernstein. Unfortunately, taming the beast Mahler for domestic use has been the result, as less intense conductors have, in effect, put Mahler on Prozac. Instead of saving a troubled artistís visionary statements for special occasions, we now have even-keel Mahler suitable for playing as background music during housework or on the desk radio in the office.

Such thoughts came to me while I was listening to the Warner Apex reissue of Kent Naganoís 1999 recording of Mahlerís Third. I donít mean to dismiss it too curtly, for it is a fresh, charming, even Haydnesque performance. But it falls some distance short of the soul-stirring experiences to be found in classic performances such as those from Barbirolli (BBC), Bernstein (DG), Horenstein (Unicorn) and Levine (RCA).

Perusal of the rambling first movement of the piece found a crisp, buoyant performance from Nagano and the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin. Without being quite as hard-pressed as Sir Georg Solti (Decca) or Vaclav Neumann (Supraphon), Nagano keeps things moving along with an elegant efficiency. Thereís fussiness, too, as Nagano has his players clip the quarter note in the opening marchís underpinning rhythm: Instead of da-da-da-daaa, we get da-da-da-dat. Nagano has a point, to a degree. Some performances hold out that quarter note, short-changing the rest which follows it. But Naganoís clipping is so abrupt, it sounds like the quarter note is being played staccato, which exaggerates it in the opposite direction, making it just as wrong as putting undue emphasis on the note. What troubles me is that in an hour and a half of music, these are the only sort of insights Nagano offers: Close, fussy readings or the occasional debatable exaggeration. Otherwise, all is poised and elegant, but rather lightweight.

Just to make sure my Mahler gyroscope was reading correctly, I put on a recording by another respected German orchestra for comparison: The Cologne Radio Symphonyís 1985 recording with Gary Bertini on EMI. What a difference! Gone was the dapper dandy approach, replaced by something electric, primordial, and massive. Granted, Bertini allows the movement much more space than Nagano, but like Nagano, he is a poised, intellectual guide, nothing at all like the freewheeling Bernstein. But whereas the music slides easily past in Naganoís hands, under Bertiniís baton, every moment is a palpable occasion. Those who dislike visionary grandstanding, then, may well love the way Nagano recasts the first movement as a well-behaved garden instead of a dangerous wilderness.

My favorite movement in Naganoís recording is the second. This wildflower minuet often becomes blank or saccharine in performances by conductors more excited by the crash-bang climaxes of the adjacent movements, but Nagano is very alive to its watercolor freshness, highlighting its swathes of color with a few exaggerated but effective ritardandos. At the bargain price of this Warner Apex release, collectors might enjoy picking up this version just for this movement alone. Most of the following scherzo seems comparable in freshness and color, though with the wild element a little soft-pedaled. The post-horn trio is lovely and distant, if not as daringly distant as in Zanderís Telarc recording. The rendition of the movement fails to capitalize on its strengths, though, as Nagano first rushes through the visionary interruption just before the coda, then rushes the coda itself at a pace which may be superficially exciting, but which does not allow enough weight for a crushing closing. Whereas Bernsteinís forest animals turn fearsome and wild, Naganoís crew remains a frolicsome petting zoo.

Mezzo Dagmar Peckova brings an attractive bright vocal color to the full range of the fourth movementís Nietzsche setting. Interestingly, Nagano encourages Peckova and the bird-call imitating oboe and English horn to be directly expressive, instead of the more mysterious approach usually heard. That combined with the clear, close recording means that this night music is shorn of the usual fog and outlined quite straightforwardly. If not the ideal solution to this often elusive movement, it is at least fresh. The fifth movement angels are buoyant and polite, without either the gravity of Horenstein or the earthiness of Levine. The finale is attractively songful, if still burning rather dimly in intensity. The orchestra is not as creamy and pure of intonation as would be ideal for this approach, lending a stridency to some of the big peaks, but it allows ample room for the music to make its impact on its own terms.

The recorded sound, from Berlinís Philharmonie, is both clear and spacious, fulfilling Naganoís colorful yet classical touch. Neither texts nor comments are included in the booklet.

Mark Sebastian Jordan

























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.