52,943 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  


Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere
(currently suspended)


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

Bruno Monteiro (violin)

More Preludes to Chopin
Kenneth Hamilton (piano)

Special Price and we are still delivering

Recordings of the Month


Feinberg Piano Sonatas

Schoenberg Violin Concerto

Early Keyboard

Nun Danket Alle Gott
Now Everyone Thanks God


Haydn Scottish Songs

Choral Music

Liszt Sonata

Renaissance Bohemia


Hahn Complete Songs

Piano Sonatas 6,7,8 Osborne

Buy through MusicWeb
for £12 postage paid World-wide.

Musicweb Purchase button


Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Fantasia in F minor, D.940 Op.103 (1828) [18:06]
Variations sur un thème original in A flat major, D.813 Op.35 (1824) [18:17]
Rondo in A major, D.951 Op.107 (1828) [11:38]
Duo in A minor (Lebensstürme), D.947 Op. posth. 144 (1828) [16:42]
Irena Kofman, André de Groote (piano)
rec. May 2008, Sint-Vincentius-Chappel, Ghent.
TALENT DOM 2911 119 [64:43]

Experience Classicsonline

Meet the family. You probably already know the great Fantasy. Around it, gather its brothers and sisters. They are alike, and yet different, as members of a family usually are. You may be surprised to discover their existence. The sea of Schubert’s four-hands piano music is vast, but its islands are not the most popular touristic resorts. Recently more and more recordings have been devoted to Schubert four-hands. The present album packs four works of more or less the same size and stature – without short and effective pieces like the Marches militaires, and without the endurance tests like the Grand Duo or the Divertissements.
The Fantasy in F minor is not easy to describe. It is by turns turbulent, lyrical, somber, vigorous and grand. It is one of the most magical, entrancing and dramatic pieces of music ever written. Not every performance does it full justice. The 1984 recording by Perahia and Lupu on Sony is the pinnacle by which I ultimately measure all others. The new recording by Kofman and de Groote is well paced, which is crucial for this music. The dramatic accents are all there, and the music takes real flight. It is done more “staccato” than the Perahia/Lupu, and I miss the feeling of “cold space” that I sense in the older recording. Where Perahia and Lupu are buffetted like a leaf in a storm, Kofman and de Groote run fast. Their Largo is not really slow, but it works well. The interpretation of the third, “scherzo” section of the work is probably the least successful, and it drags down the overall impression. There, the more laid-back moments are not relaxed and so when more turbulent episodes arrive the “cold shower” effect is lost. Also, the tempo is rather immutable, which results in a mechanical feeling. The last section is again sensitive and spectacular, and its dark, heavy climax is very impressive. On the whole, this reading has in store fewer surprises for the listener than those that allow more freedom. Still, it is very powerful, with true symphonic depth.
The Variations on an Original Theme start like one of the Marches militaires. The theme is rather square, but the variations are diverse and enjoyable. Imagine something between the Diabelli Variations and those from the Death and the Maiden quartet – arguably, without the depth of either. Still, Schubert is Schubert though there is some anticipation of Schumann and the inspiration radiates like sunlight.. The last section (the slow variation and the one after it) is pure pleasure. Except for a few passing clouds, the general mood is cheerful, and the performance is bright and full of character.
Do not believe the disc cover and the booklet: what they call Rondo in A major is actually the Lebensstürme duo, and vice versa. The Rondo is one of the examples of Schubert’s “heavenly length”. The episodes share the relaxed mood of a quiet conversation. Even more agitated moments look back to Mozart, not Beethoven. This music can have a happy, sunny flow – just listen to the Argerich/Freire duo from their Salzburg recital (on DG). In Kofman and de Groote’s hands the music is marching, not flowing; it has little rubato and the beat is pronounced. All this makes the piece sound too similar to the previous one. Also, the range of emotion is very narrow. This music box is mechanical, not magical.
The nickname Lebensstürme (“The Storms of Life”) was given to the Duo in A minor by Diabelli: Schubert definitely had better taste. This sibling more closely resembles the Fantasia: it is dramatic, with contrasting episodes of lightness and pressure, sunshine and thunder, hope and despair. The counterpoint is exceptionally elaborate. Unlike the Fantasia, there are some simple solutions, some pathétique formulae familiar from Beethoven. Also, unlike the Fantasia, I sometimes catch myself thinking heretical thoughts about this being of maybe-not-so-heavenly-length. If it were a symphonic movement orchestral colors would help. The performance is excellent: emotional and with good momentum. The main theme evinces weight without strain; the second subject has a cold and silvery shine.
The recording is transparent if with a certain dryness. The liner-note gives good coverage of pianists’ biographies, but otherwise is not informative. This disc can serve as a nice introduction to Schubert’s four-hands music. Still, given that not everything comes alive in this recital, I cannot put it forward as a top-notch recommendation.


Oleg Ledeniov
























Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

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



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

Return to Review Index

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.