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

Frédéric CHOPIN (1810-1849)
Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op.11 (arr. for piano and string quintet) (1830) [39:59]
Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op.21 (arr. for piano and string quintet) (1830) [32:40]
Gianluca Luisi (piano)
Ensemble Concertant Frankfurt (Peter Agoston, Klaus Schwamm (violin), Wolfgang Tluck (viola), Ulrich Horn (cello), Timm Johannes Trappe (double-bass))
rec. March 2010, Ehem. Ackerhaus der Abtei Marienmünster. Hybrid SACD, DDD.
MDG 9031632 [72:52]

Experience Classicsonline

The orchestration of Chopin’s piano concertos is not perfect. Everyone will agree. It’s not even known whether Chopin himself did the orchestration. We do however know that he prepared versions for piano and string quintet and published them even before the orchestral ones. These are the versions performed here.
Certainly, clarity of texture, is one of the advantages of this approach. The piano is not drowned under the heavy-handed orchestral tutti any more. Therefore, there is no need for the pianist to over-shout the accompaniment. The ensemble is more flexible. Some inner voices are better heard. I especially loved the cello lines that resurface from the background and intertwine with the piano. The slow movements attain a “honeyed” quality – à la Tchaikovsky Second. At the end of the day, these piano concertos are not about dialog between the soloist and the orchestra. They are piano showpieces, with the orchestra added to punctuate and set off some sides and corners. The piano part is still there; does it really matter much whether you place your diamonds on black velvet or black silk?
There are disadvantages too, besides the expected “we are just not used to it”. Some corners that are “rounded” when many instruments play the part become sharp when there is only one voice to a part. I really miss the woodwind in some places, like the first movement E minor coda. Also, when playing forte, the strings sometimes seem to be trying to impersonate the full orchestra and just strain and “squeeze” the voice out.
The sound of the restored 1901 Steinway is certainly attractive, but not especially powerful. This lends fragile beauty to the slow movements and gentler places. It also brings real quicksilver colors to more mercurial episodes, as in the coda of the E minor finale. On the other hand, the sound lacks weight in the more tempestuous places. For example, the mighty cascades at the end of the E minor 1st movement development lose the overwhelming effect they usually have. In the slow movement of the same concerto, the piano sound is too sharp for real poetry to awake. The climax of the finale - before the last return of the refrain - leaves the feeling of “what if”. I probably cannot be a fair judge here: I am a Martha Argerich fan, and happen to love her “thundering” approach to this concerto. I always return to the evergreen Pollini/Kletzki on EMI. The latest live performance by Argerich and Kaspszyk from the 2010 Lugano box is also excellent.
The chamber approach suits the F minor concerto much better. Although it resembles the Op.11 concerto, as a twin sister resembles her brother, it is gentler, less dramatic. Also, the role of the piano is greater here, and Luisi’s playing is especially expressive and subtle, so it compensates for any discomfort you may feel from the “adventurous” accompaniment. The coda of the first movement is as sensitive and beautiful as ever. The piano is deeply poetic in the slow movement, with strings murmuring softly. This movement probably benefits the most from the reduction of forces. The rich piano part of the finale feels good in chamber clothes. It glitters and flutters like a butterfly in the sun. The mood is light and relaxed. Unfortunately, it also means that the excitement is gone. It is beautiful – but boring.
Chopin is Chopin, and if you love his piano concertos you’ll find a lot to love here. Also, it is interesting to envision what it was like when he played his concertos in Parisian salons, with reduced forces. I wish I could be more enthusiastic. Indeed, I hear more inner lines, but these lines are thin and sharp, as if I saw on an X-ray the skeleton of a beautiful ballerina. I understand that there is a lot on both sides of the weighing scales, and probably your own head needs to be added to the equation. So I advise to listen to excerpts online, if possible.
I cannot appraise the SACD sound quality, but on a regular player I do not feel any especial depth of sound. Quite the contrary, strings sound shallow, although the piano voice is captured well.
The booklet contains an engaging essay by Elisabeth Deckers in English, French and German about the history of creation of the concertos in their various arrangements, as well as advocacy for the chamber version of these works.
Oleg Ledeniov


































































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.