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


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

All HDTT reviews

Clarissa Bevilacqua plays
Augusta Read Thomas

all Nimbus reviews

Brahms Dvorak
Brahms 2 Dvorak 7
all tudor 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
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   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



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

Recordings of the Month

November 2022
Bach Orchestral Suites

del Cinque
Del Cinque Cello sonatas

Fujita Mozart
Mao Fujita Mozart

Stanczyk Acousmatic Music


October 2022

Berg Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto Elmes

DEbussy Jeux
Debussy Jeux

Romantic pioano masters
Romantic Piano Masters

The future is female - Vol 2
Volume 2 - The Dance

impromptu harp music
Complete Harp Impromptus



CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS

Sergei RACHMANINOV (1873-1943)
The Isle of the Dead
, Op. 29 [25:00]
Two Études-Tableaux (orch. Respighi):
La Mer et les mouettes, Op. 39 No 2 [9:06]
La Foire Op. 33 No 4 [2:18]
Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881)
Pictures at an Exhibition
(orch. Ravel) [34:13]
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Evgeny Svetlanov
rec. 28 October 1999, Royal Festival Hall, London. DDD
BBC LEGENDS BBCL4259-2 [70:56]

Experience Classicsonline

On this disc we have the bulk of a concert given by Svetlanov during a rare appearance with the BBC Symphony Orchestra - the item that’s omitted was a Prokofiev piano concerto. Svetlanov was particularly good in music from his native Russia and the music included here plays to his strengths.

The colourful nature of Ravel’s celebrated orchestration of Mussorgsky’s piano work is brought out very well. Some may find the opening ‘Promenade’ a touch brisk - here it seems like a purposeful walk up to the front door of the gallery - but some of the characterisations that follow are very sharply edged, not least a sinister, grotesque ‘Gnomus’. ‘Bydlo’ plods lugubriously across the Steppes, rising to a potent climax and the portrait of ‘Samuel Goldenberg and Schmuyle’ is painted with a broad but effective brush, though the muted trumpet solo doesn’t sound to be perfectly tuned. Perhaps not surprisingly Svetlanov builds ‘The Great Gate of Kiev’ to an imposing climax with a large church bell clanging most effectively. The very final chord, suitably gong-drenched, is unusually sustained; we’re definitely in the world of Boris Godunov here.

Not all is power and grandeur, however. Svetlanov leads a nicely turned account of ‘Tuileries’ while both ‘The Market at Limoges’ and ‘The Ballet of the Unhatched Chicks’ are lively. I’ve heard more subtle accounts of Pictures but I’ve also heard many that are nowhere near as involving. This is a successful and enjoyable reading of the work.

It’s good to hear Respighi’s inventive and sympathetic orchestrations of two of Rachmaninov’s piano Études-Tableaux - he orchestrated five of these pieces in all - and Svetlanov does them with affection and no little feeling.

But though Pictures at an Exhibition was positioned, presumably, as the climax to the concert I rather feel that the best comes first. I can’t recall hearing a better account than this present one of Rachmaninov’s brooding, intense tone poem, The Isle of the Dead. It’s an expansive reading but Svetlanov controls the performance masterfully and fully justifies his broad conception. In his booklet note Colin Anderson, who was present at the concert in question, refers to the performance as “daringly epic” and adds this: “This gripping London version - of implacable tread, lugubrious expression and darkness of tone - is unflinching in its emotionalism and dramatic sureness.” That says it all, really. I’d add only that the extended, impassioned climax is beautifully prepared and, when it arrives, is impressively sustained. For me this great performance, which possibly could not have been emulated under studio conditions, is worth the price of the disc.

Throughout the programme the BBC Symphony Orchestra responds to Svetlanov’s direction with commitment and intensity. The playing isn’t flawless - there are a few ragged edges caused, no doubt, by unfamiliarity with Svetlanov’s technique - but these small blemishes are scarcely noticeable when set against the sweep and the often-thrilling nature of the music making.

I hope that BBC Legends may now be able to negotiate the rights to issue, as a follow-up to this fine release, the performance that Svetlanov gave with the BBC Symphony of Rachmaninov’s The Bells in April 2002. That was his very last concert and by all accounts it was a very special performance. But, then, this present reading of The Isle of the Dead falls into the same category.

John Quinn

Masterwork Index: All reviews of Pictures at an exhibition



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.