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

CD: Crotchet

Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Eine Alpensinfonie, Op. 64 (1911-1915)
London Symphony Orchestra/Bernard Haitink
rec. 8, 10 June 2008, Barbican, London, UK
LSO LIVE LSO 0689 [50:20]


Experience Classicsonline


The Alpine Symphony is one of Strauss’s most glorious creations, a metaphysical journey as much as a physical one, and a work that gives conductors and orchestras a chance to show off their skills. I well remember Herbert von Karajan’s early digital recording which, despite its rather aggressive sound, captured the sheer excitement and majesty of this climb. There are other contenders, among them Kempe, Solti and Ashkenazy, but this is a piece that cries out for a top-notch recording. It’s certainly done well on SACD, with versions from Thielemann – the disc last sighted on Amazon Marketplace at an eye-watering £107 – Luisi, Jansons, Bychkov and now Haitink.
Haitink’s Strauss has always been well regarded, and the recent Eloquence reissue of his Don Quixotereview – reminded me why. There’s a warmth and humanity in that performance that is rare indeed, qualities that don’t necessarily spring to mind when it comes to Strauss’s other blockbusters. Given that Haitink, now in his 80s, is one of music’s most reserved and self-effacing maestros, I did wonder what he would bring to the Alpine Symphony, a work he has recorded before (Philips 416156). And what about the infamous Barbican acoustic, whose unmistakable sound signature has diluted my enjoyment of earlier LSO Live issues?
First impressions are encouraging: the sustained introduction to Night full and fluid, the rasp of the lower brass well caught. This is clearly going to be a ‘real world’ performance, long on substance and short on rhetoric. To paraphrase Hopkins, one can really feel ‘the fell of night’ here, Haitink moving implacably towards that splendid sunrise. Goodness, the LSO sound magnificent at this point, a reminder that on a good night they are truly a world-class band. And Haitink is no slouch either, preparing for the ascent with astonishing vigour and a strong sense of purpose, both vital if the symphony’s long span isn’t to buckle and sag.
The on- and off-stage brass are simply glorious, Haitink making sure they never sound crude or overbearing. And the orchestral surge as our intrepid climber plunges into the thickets is just as thrilling. The recording adds a welcome glow to the strings and woodwind. Haitink finds a deep stillness here, a pause for reflection if you like, before the sudden roar of the waterfall. Just listen to those beautifully balanced harps that conjure up the apparitions glimpsed in its spray. Here one realises what Haitink brings to this performance, a nobility, an ease of heart, that one associates more with Strauss in his later years. But still the heart beats strongly, urged ever upwards by those soaring strings.
Haitink may be reticent but he still finds something thrillingly elemental about the glacier and the precarious ascent that follows. True, others may find more raw excitement at moments like these, but Haitink’s unhurried, more spacious reading is every bit as rewarding, the view from the summit as stupendous as I’ve ever heard it. And what amplitude as the full orchestra bursts forth, Haitink having scaled the big moments with care, each one more imposing than the last. If you’re worried about the organ don’t be, because it’s got more than enough heft for this piece – and it’s in tune, too.
I can’t remember when I last heard the elegy played with such radiance, or the approaching storm was heralded with such care. Haitink brings out those ravishing colours as only a seasoned Straussian can. As for the storm it comes across with astonishing depth and detail on both CD and SACD, but for the last ounce of terror the latter is hard to beat. Make no mistake, though, Haitink never goes for the cheap thrill, so that when the climaxes arrive they have been meticulously prepared for. That said, nothing prepared me for what must be one of the most gorgeous moments in all Strauss, the sunset. Even though Karajan does it so well – what intensity – Haitink is in another league altogether. What nobility and splendour, and how unbearably moving.
One may think it’s all downhill from there but this performance just gets better and better. Warning has the LSO playing like angels, the conductor lofty and far-sighted as he guides us towards night once more. The hush that falls is so profound that applause would only have destroyed the spell. Thankfully there is none, and the symphony fades, as it should, into the inkiest silence.
Kent Nagano’s DVD of this symphony – review – was one of my Recordings of the Year in 2007. It’s still a vigorous and exciting performance, certainly that of a younger man, but Haitink brings to this score an accumulated wisdom and insight that casts this work in an entirely new perspective. What’s most remarkable is there’s no sign of the expressive overkill or self-indulgence that advancing years – and perhaps a sense of complacency – can bring. I still can’t get on with his Mahler or Bruckner, but I have to admit this new disc is a magnificent achievement all-round and, quite possibly, the performance of a lifetime.
Dan Morgan


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.