Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Some items
to consider

in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati








Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
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
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

Leonardo BALADA (b.1933)
Caprichos No 2 (2004) [15:09]
Caprichos No 4 ‘Quasi Jazz’ (2007) [24:04]
Caprichos No 3 ‘Homenaje a las Brigadas Internacionales’ (2005) [24:58]
Andrés Cárdenes, violin (No 2), Jeffrey Turner, double bass (No 4)
Pittsburgh Sinfonietta/Andrés Cárdenes (Nos 2,4), Lawrence Loh (No 3)
rec. 27 September, 2009 (No 2), 16-27 May, 2008 (Nos 3-4), Kresge Recital Hall, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA (No 2), Alumni Concert Hall, Carnegie Mellon University (Nos 3-4)
NAXOS 8.572176 [64:11]

Experience Classicsonline

Years from now Leonardo Balada may well be remembered as one of the most interesting composers of our time. That will be in part because of his significant recorded legacy on Naxos, but mostly due to the simple fact that he is one of the first composers of our age to emerge from the corridors of theory and write naturally. At least, that’s Balada’s own explanation for his style, in the combative and clear booklet note, where he draws a contrast between a time when theorists and musicologists derived their ideas from pre-existing music, and the dawn of Schoenberg, who (Balada says) was the first composer to draw his style from the theory, rather than the other way around.

Balada himself was once a member of the avant-garde, with such works as Guernica, but in recent decades has chosen to let musicologists try to label his music for themselves. He rejects the dichotomy between “abstract” and “folk-influenced” music, and asserts that every composer ought to simply have an individual style, which either works, or doesn’t. Listeners who know his concertos and symphonies from earlier Naxos releases will know that Leonardo Balada’s style does.

These Caprichos, or works for chamber orchestra, are as close as Balada gets to “folk-influenced” music. No 2 is a trio of sharply-cut takes on Latin dance rhythms, although these are often hard to recognize underneath the sarcastic film of what Balada calls “a free modernistic manner.” In some ways this is the driest of the three works, and Balada himself seems to think so, describing it only briefly in the booklet. The starring roles are for violinist Andrés Cárdenes and harpist Gretchen Van Hoesen, who gets some of the juiciest material in the outer movements. Is there a hint of the “Mexican Hat Dance” in the finale?

Capricho No 4, “Quasi Jazz,” is built around a virtuosic, tuneful double bass solo part straight out of classic jazz albums. The piano, clarinet and string accompanists are very skillfully deployed around the soloist, avoiding the problems inherent in choosing such a low-key instrument for the lead part. Listen, especially, to the spiritual second movement, with the double bass singing a sad number over motoric pizzicatos; that the third movement continues the same mood at greater length is a bit of a pity. Jeffrey Turner is the confident soloist with a deep affinity for this music.

Capricho No 3 is presented last on the disc and that makes sense, as it is - to me, at least - the most compelling work. Like the other two works, the influences of Balada’s avant-garde days and his gift for “spiking” tunes with emotional ambivalence are always evident, but without the claims to folk styles which do not always ring true. Moreover, the second movement (“In memoriam”) features a gorgeous, lyrical violin solo that really is quite moving. It might be the most simply-scored movement on the disc, and benefits from that. The last two movements are excellent, too, if very old-fashioned: a lament in the form of a softly eloquent Irish folk song sung by violin against a sophisticated - that is, “modern” - accompaniment and then a really rousing jota in which Balada really frees himself of his inhibitions.

The “Pittsburgh Sinfonietta” was explicitly formed to make this recording, out of members of the Pittsburgh Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, and Naxos has quite generously chosen to provide photos and biographies of every soloist performer - all players but the string orchestra. Andrés Cárdenes, the Pittsburgh Symphony’s fantastic concertmaster - you can hear his violin solo work in the Janowski/PentaTone Brahms Symphony No 1 - supplies confident, glittering violin playing and, in two of the Caprichos, the sure conducting of someone who knows and cares about the music. Lawrence Loh takes up the baton in the Third Capricho with no less satisfying results.

This might not be the best introduction to Balada’s music, since many of the symphonies are more serious and quite a few of the concertos are both highly accessible and dazzlingly written. My favorite Balada disc is probably still the concerto album conducted by José Serebrier, and my preference overall will still run toward Balada’s full-orchestra music, though I suspect he’d be a winner at string quartets. But those who know the composer well and appreciate his output will definitely enjoy this addition to Naxos’ continuing Balada series.

With every new disc, Leonardo Balada looks more and more like one of our most outstanding composers. Or is it that he looks more and more like one of my favorites? Either way, these Caprichos show that even his “folk” side is well worth hearing.

Brian Reinhart

See also review by Byzantion














































































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.