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

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

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: Crotchet

Anton BRUCKNER (1824-1896)
Symphony No. 4 in E-flat (Romantic) (1874) [78:20]
Staatskapelle Dresden/Herbert Blomstedt
rec. data not given

Experience Classicsonline

Dal Segno proffers neither the dates nor the venue for this recording, as if to imply that it's recent. But I suspect this is a licensing of a Denon recording (C37-7126) of the mid-1980s, in which case Dal Segno needn't have been so coy, given Denon's reputation for superior engineering. And, while I've not heard the original issue of this performance, the sound here is certainly impressive: clean and present, and focused in the bass. The brass choir comes across with impact and depth in tutti - the trumpets' bright edge adding brilliance and variety to the otherwise homogeneous sonority - yet there's plenty of room around the lighter textures.
What may surprise people is the way Blomstedt's performance, first and foremost, moves, in keeping with the authentic Central European Bruckner tradition, as documented in monaural recordings and concert airchecks by Böhm, Knappertsbusch, and even Fürtwängler. Among all the historical performances I've heard, only the slightly later Celibidache conforms to the stereotype of a stodgy, glacial manner in Bruckner. Blomstedt plays the music with an almost Italianate flow and direction, without sacrificing the needed sense of space.
Within this mobile framework, Blomstedt's handling of small musical units shows how they generate long-term coherence - the rhythmic motif of the symphony's first tutti, two quarter-notes followed by three triplets, evidently serves as the unifying motto for the entire score, returning in the Scherzo's main theme as well as in the Finale's various thematic and secondary fanfares. The conductor also brings out the neglected expressive potential in other details, coloring the string sonority warmly at 3:21 in the first movement, underlining the horn's low pedal-point in the Andante so it registers as a reflection of the theme. Given this level of care, it's odd that Blomstedt allows some softer phrases and units to get buried. The horn "answering" the reeds at 12:35 of the first movement doesn't cut through, and neither do the trombone "answers" at 17:12 (pianissimo doesn't mean inaudible!); the violins lack character and presence in general when playing softly, though there's no problem at louder levels.
The first movement, as suggested earlier, is flowing and spacious; the woodwinds' clean attack giving their statement of the theme a cool Nordic feel. The springy tutti, though sufficiently weighted, feels lighter than usual, and there's a nice searching quality, and a hushed anticipation, when the theme returns at 7:02. The slow movement maintains a similar flow - the marking, after all, is Andante quasi allegretto - with the sombre pizzicato basses at 0:47 suggesting the "funeral march" atmosphere. The cellos at the start are vibrant and cantabile; the violas, in their featured passage at 3:16, are equally warm and more translucent. Another clean woodwind attack, on the downward phrase at 5:38, evokes an appropriate organlike effect. The theme sounds more mournful when it returns at 8:20, with its woodwind commentary, than the first time around.
The unbuttoned Scherzo strikes a buoyant note, maintained not only in the airborne hunting-horn calls, but in the "in-one" quality of passages that traditionally relax, such as that at 0:31. The Trio is phrased simply and serenely, though as it proceeds, the strings, as in most other performances, tend to creep ahead nervously.
Ensemble in the finale is less alert than in the preceding movements, perhaps reflecting the last of a fatiguing set of sessions: the landing at 2:18 isn't exactly together, and the edges of the recurring unison tuttis are slightly but noticeably blunted. Still, few accounts match Blomstedt's fleet, affirmative performance of this movement in projecting it in a single, inexorable line. The trim bass quarter notes at the start immediately establish an anticipatory mood; the second subject, at 2:59, is warm and gently striding; the tutti at 5:23, and those that follow, are martial and ominous rather than, as in most renderings, portentous. I liked the cheerful bustle of the passage at 16:55, but the tempo seems marginally too fast for this level of busyness.
Blomstedt does score, however, in one of this movement's trickiest moments: the third theme's chorale recap, allotted first to brasses, then to strings. On many recordings, the strings' attempt to match the sound of overblowing brass sounds unintentionally comical. That the theme arrives organically from the preceding passages, at 8:27, is notable enough; the conductor balances his full-throated brasses carefully, and has the strings attack with a blooming resonance that affords them a comparable tonal presence - nicely done.
Despite its popular-sounding nickname, the Romantic has proved elusive on disc, and the analog accounts that have held up best over the long haul, may be hard to find on CD. Böhm's Vienna studio recording (Decca) remains unique in its balance of expressiveness and austerity. Barenboim's first account (DG), originally conceived as a one-off rather than the launch of a cycle, is weighty and affectionate, with the Chicago brass in resplendent form. Bruno Walter's early-stereo version (Sony/CBS) sings sweetly in the lyrical pages without shortchanging rugged strength in the brassy climaxes. Blomstedt's isn't, perhaps, on this exalted level, but it surely ranks just below those three recordings, and, with its first-rate sound, it's a useful and pleasing supplement.
Stephen Francis Vasta 



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.