One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,928 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


Obtain 10% discount


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


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom
Ph. 020 8418 0616



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month


piano music Vol 4


Songs of Love and Sorrow

Thomas Agerfeldt OLESEN
Cello Concerto

The female in Music




From Ocean’s Floor



Purchase through Classicsonline
Sound Samples & Downloads

Georges BIZET (1838-1875)
Complete Piano Music
Nocturne in F [7:14]
Grande valse de concert [6:54]
Three Esquisses musicales [12:07]
Nocturne in D [4:12]
Variations chromatiques [13:07]
Valse in C [2:00]
Four Preludes [3:01]
Two Caprices [4:27]
Theme brilliant [2:22]
L’Arlésienne Suite No 1 (arr. Bizet for piano) [15:39]
Chants du Rhin [20:35]
Magasin des familles [10:36]
Venise [2:21]
Romance sans paroles [3:09]
Marine [3:26]
Chasse fantastique [6:22]
L’Arlésienne Suite No 2 (arr. Bizet for piano) [14:48]
Julia Severus (piano)
rec. December 2008, Piano School, Berlin, Germany
NAXOS DIGITAL 8.570831-32 [71:03 + 61:17]

Experience Classicsonline

As soon as I saw Bizet: Complete Piano Music listed as a new release on the Naxos website, I realized that I had never before even thought of Georges Bizet in relation to piano compositions or piano music. I listened to the album for the first time with trepidation. Was there a reason his piano works had evaded popularity for so long? Was there a reason that quick checks of the internet revealed only two recorded piano recitals of Bizet prior to this one, neither offering the “complete” works?
Not all of this music is especially memorable, and none of it is profound. But one can safely slot Bizet into the tradition of Moszkowski, Paderewski, Mendelssohn, Gottschalk and others as a composer of admirable, charming little salon miniatures which, one imagines, gave amateurs of the day considerable pleasure and provided the composers with respectable calling-cards at evening parties. Even in this field, I would not credit Bizet with the originality some of those other composers exhibited in their works for piano.
Julia Severus has carefully and cleverly programmed her two discs here. Each begins with lighter fare, progresses through a smart alternation of serious and slight, and ends with one of the L’Arlésienne suites, arranged for piano by the composer. The two nocturnes on CD 1 are reminiscent more of Mendelssohn’s Songs without Words than anything by Chopin, and I prefer the lovely cantabile F major to the less-inspired example in D. There are several waltzes bathed in the perfume of the salons of Paris. The C major waltz really is a clever delight with some surprises in store, although the “Grand valse de concert” does not have a main tune nearly as hummable as Moszkowski’s work by the same title. The three Esquisses include a “Ronde turque” which impressed me as sounding quite a lot more authentically Turkish than almost any other western piece bearing that title.
The most dramatic work on CD 1 is Variations chromatiques, the chromatic passages of which serve up high drama and empty virtuosity in equal measure before the piece turns into a rather pedestrian, wandering “happy romantic” piece near the middle. An ominous ending, consciously imitative of Beethoven, barely manages to save it. The four Preludes are refreshing and nicely varied in mood, although they add up to just three minutes’ worth of music. The two Caprices are rather longer and I actually found the first quite interesting in its spicy blend of minor mode, sly attitude and stealthy rhythms. Again, think of Moszkowski, or perhaps even of a Chopin mazurka. Both Caprices sound as if they are just waiting to be orchestrated; by contrast, the first L’Arlésienne suite has been de-orchestrated here, and the beginning of the introduction does sound rather naked. In fact, it sounds like a fugue subject waiting to be put into counterpoint. The rest of the suite goes better; indeed, the minuet and carillons are quite successful as piano pieces.
The second CD opens with the longest work in the set: Chants du Rhin, a series of tone-pictures with titles like “Les rêves” which lasts for a little over twenty minutes. Even this work manages to be cutesy; “La bohémienne” is like a Chopin waltz composed by an inebriate. I think Julia Severus takes the opening movement a bit too quickly, but the others are better - “Les confidences” in particular is a well-voiced song begging for words. The most striking moment of the Magasin des familles comes near the end of the “Méditation réligieuse,” when Bizet caps off the piece with some unexpected, indeed totally out of place, fortissimo chords. Better is the second L’Arlésienne suite, which succeeds as a piano piece all the way through, especially the dance episode in the middle of the Pastorale and the dazzling passagework in the center of the final Farandole.
A few miniatures fill out the remainder of the set, all of them from essentially the same “songs without words” mold. The only Venetian characteristic I can detect in “Venise” is its melancholy mood, something like (one might say, creatively) a city reflecting that its best centuries are behind it. A “Romance sans paroles” is rather sans interest. The surprisingly Latin American “Marine” hints that Julia Severus would probably be a great performer of samba, ragtime and composers like Gershwin and Ernesto Nazareth.
I was surprised to realize that Bizet had even written piano music, so this set counts as a pleasant discovery. That some of the works, particularly the waltz in C, nocturne in F, “Marine”, and a few excerpts from L’Arlésienne, are actually very good makes this an even better surprise. Julia Severus is reliable and sensitive to the music’s lyricism and supplies her own well-written liner-notes, and the recorded sound is warm and close. This piano music is generally not too special - in fact none of it is “special” except maybe the sudden Brazilian turn of “Marine” - but all of it is, at a minimum, rather pretty, and “rather pretty” is a good thing to be. If you are fond of rather pretty piano music, here are two discs full of it waiting to be heard.
As a part of the Naxos Digital imprint, this album is currently only available for download at the website Classicsonline, where it sells for rather less than the price of a physical compact disc. Other download retailers, like eMusic and iTunes, stock it as well. Naxos informs me that a standard CD will be issued in January 2011.
Brian Reinhart










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.