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

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25 (1830) [18:13]
Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor, Op. 40 (1837) [20:43]
Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 107 (Reformation) (1828-30) [25:10]
Québec Symphony Orchestra/Louis Lortie (piano/conductor)
rec. Salle Raoul-Jobin, Palais Montcalm, Québec, April 2009
ATMA CLASSIQUE ACD2 2617 [64:14]

Experience Classicsonline

A number of pianists over the years - Daniel Barenboim, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Murray Perahia - have made a specialty of directing Mozart piano concertos from the keyboard. This procedure ensures a unified interpretation, and the music's clean, straightforward lines permit a competent orchestra to keep itself more or less together while the pianist is otherwise occupied. What arm-waving the soloist can manage during the ritornellos probably won't hurt anything, at least. In the cases of Ashkenazy and Barenboim, at least, such performances helped to launch full-fledged conducting careers.

Applying the same practice to later repertoire, however, is questionable. The rigorously structured Beethoven concertos have proved more or less amenable to such treatment, but in the more intricate textures of early Romantic scores - which don't necessarily sound more complex than Beethoven's - it really helps to have a separate conductor. A pianist-director whose attention is necessarily divided must largely leave the orchestra to tend to its own deportment, relying on the players' expertise and goodwill.

Thus, Louis Lortie's go at the Mendelssohn concertos is a mixed success. The earlier G minor concerto comes off well. The outer movements are labeled Molto allegro con fuoco and Presto respectively, and feature numerous driving, tremolando string phrases, all of which suggests a drama that doesn't always come across in performance. The stereotype of Mendelssohn as a lightweight still flourishes in some quarters. Lortie infuses those movements with a Schumannesque nervous tension, contrasting it with a calm, spacious account of the central Andante movement. As pianist, Lortie's touch is light enough to allow for deft articulation in the passagework, but maintains a sense of weight in reserve for the climaxes, avoiding shallow tone. His voicings in the Andante could be more ambitious - the chording is homogenized - but he guides the phrases musically and sensitively.

The D minor performance is more equivocal: it follows the same broad outlines as its companion, but there are bits that needed more rehearsal, or a separate conductor. The orchestra bangs into the first movement's first tutti with more enthusiasm than precision, and the chords near the end of the piece don't quite land with the impulsive pianist. Lortie adopts a simple, singing manner for the central Adagio, but the grandly expansive climax doesn't fill out as one wants - it feels held back, as if the director were embarrassed by its scale.

Lortie takes over the baton exclusively for the Reformation Symphony. He has a good feel for the score - his reading would go over well in concert - and occasionally evinces an ear for detail: the bass note connecting the third and fourth movements is clearly present, for example, avoiding the usual brief lapse in continuity. Lortie's flowing, cantabile phrasing evokes the right meditative spirit, while his forthright, no-nonsense rhythmic address avoids the whiff of sanctimony that can hover about the score, particularly in the finale with its quotations of the Lutheran chorale Ein' feste Burg. At first, the main section of that movement, beginning at 1:14, sounds hasty, but it settles nicely by the time the chorale resumes at 3:58. Elsewhere, passing ensemble flaws - a nervousness about the tremolo phrases in the first movement, some miscoordination in the pulsing bits of the scherzo - are a distraction.

Overall, the Québec Symphony plays well, far better than on the only other recording of theirs I've heard, a dismal ballet program under Simon Streatfield (CBC). The sonority is full, though it's not a high-octane Philadelphia or Boston sound, and the solo and sectional work is consistently polished.

This is a pleasing and well-performed program, but you could probably do better getting the concertos and the symphony separately. Unfashionably, I've always favored John Ogdon's full-bodied, somewhat over-recorded coupling of the concertos (originally EMI Studio Two, licensed Stateside to the Klavier label); its closest digital counterpart would probably be Stephen Hough's bold, stylish Hyperion accounts. For the Reformation, pre-digital transfers by Maazel (DG), Bernstein (Sony), and von Dohnányi (Decca) still take pride of place, along with the excitable, and exciting, Munch account (RCA), though its early stereo recording sounds faded now.

Stephen Francis Vasta








































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.