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


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

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

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



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month



From Ocean’s Floor


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

Leonard BERNSTEIN (1918-1990)
Serenade after Plato’s ‘Symposium’ for solo violin, strings, harp and percussion (1954) [30:46]
Ernest BLOCH (1880-1959)
Baal Shem – Three Pictures of Chassidic Life (1939) [15:08]
Samuel BARBER (1910-1981)
Concerto for violin and orchestra, Op. 14 (1939) [23:45]
Vadim Gluzman (violin)
São Paulo Symphony Orchestra/John Neschling
rec. July 2007, Sala São Paulo, Brazil
BIS-SACD-1662 [70:31]

Experience Classicsonline

Trawling through the online catalogues I see Bernstein’s Serenade has been lucky on record, with stellar performances from the likes of Itzhak Perlman and Anne-Sophie Mutter. The Bloch triptych is presented here in its later version for violin and orchestra – the original, for violin and piano, dates from 1923 – and that, too, seems to have attracted a number of first-rate fiddlers, including a very young Joshua Bell. The Israeli violinist Hagai Shaham has recorded the version for piano and violin, and it just so happens that his namesake Gil Shaham’s reading of the Barber concerto with André Previn and the LSO – DG 439 886-2 – is at or near the top of my list of recommendations for this delectable work.
The Ukrainian-born violinist Vadim Gluzman – he moved to Israel in 1990 – has already completed a number of discs for BIS, among them works by composers as diverse as Schnittke and Pärt, so he certainly doesn’t shrink from a challenge. As for the São Paulo orchestra under maestro Neschling, they first came to my attention with a scintillating disc of Tchaikovsky and Medtner piano concertos (BIS-SACD-1588). And even if that weren’t such a fine recording it would still be a must-have for lovers of this repertoire.
So, how does Gluzman acquit himself here? Bernstein’s Serenade, for which the composer provided a detailed programme, is a musical response to the many aspects of love debated in Plato’s Symposium. A daunting task for some, perhaps, but not for the bold Bernstein, who was never short of chutzpah. Happily, this lithe and lyrical score receives a fine performance here. From the opening violin solo to ‘Phaedrus’ – a hymn to Eros – it’s clear that Gluzman possesses a firm and lovely tone, the orchestra responding sympathetically throughout. Indeed, those normally allergic to Lenny’s unique blend of naiveté and exhibitionism may be pleasantly surprised by the classical rigour – and vigour – of the writing here.
‘Aristophanes’ is especially beguiling, Gluzman spinning a shimmering web of sound above crisp orchestral pizzicati. ‘Eryximachus’ is more forthright – the percussion is very well caught here – the Adagio ramblings of ‘Agathon’ characterised by delicate, sustained playing from the soloist. Even in the tuttis Gluzman is easily heard, the SACD layer adding extra glow and ‘air’ to the sound. True, the Sala São Paulo may seem a little dry at times, but the recording has just enough warmth and detail to conjure up a believable concert balance. The start of ‘Socrates: Alcibiades’ brings to mind the sinewy sound-world of Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. The gentle dialogue between violin and cello that follows is especially affecting.
No question, Gluzman is more than just a virtuoso note-spinner; his phrasing is very natural, his tone invariably full and even. And while the detailed liner-notes cite Debussy and Richard Strauss as Bloch’s main influences, the sweetish harmonies of Baal Shem remind me more of works by fellow émigré Erich Wolfgang Korngold. Paradoxically, Gluzman makes the music of Vidul (‘Contrition’) sound both sensuous and devotional with his rich, tremulous tone staying just this side of mawkishness. As for the orchestra – the brass and timps especially – they’re powerful and imperious in Nigun (‘Improvisation’) offering a clear-eyed foil to Gluzman’s more fanciful phrases.
Yes, one could argue that the soloist is more forwardly placed than he would be in the concert hall, but as I discovered with the Gil Shaham disc mentioned earlier – and that really does sound larger than life – playing of such immediacy and refulgence seems entirely justified. Indeed, the concluding Simchas Torah (‘Rejoicing’) has a vibrant Technicolor blush that conductor and soloist exploit to the full.
Moving on to the Barber, Gluzman may seem more inward than Shaham at the start of the Allegro, but then the BIS balance is not nearly as exaggerated as DG’s. That said, Shaham and Previn strike sparks off each other with the LSO in effervescent form throughout. The Brazilians are no slouches either; the steady beat of the timps – beginning at 9:33 – is as atmospheric as one could hope for and Gluzman adds his own brand of quiet enchantment to the mix. As for the noble Andante = shades of the Adagio for Strings – it’s even finer. The music emerges with a velvety, analogue-like warmth that is simply breathtaking. Not since BIS’s excellent Seascapesreview – have I heard an orchestra recorded with such fidelity. And while Neschling certainly sets the dynamo spinning in the Presto, I really do prefer the added vigour and volatility of Shaham and Previn at this point.
This is a sterling effort, combining that rarest of commodities – thoughtful, intuitive virtuosity – with polished orchestral playing and exemplary recording. No doubt one will have favourite versions of each of these works, but if you want strong, persuasive performances of all three this is the disc to have.
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.