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


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


Symphonies 1, 2, 3


CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

Heinz HOLLIGER (b.1939)
Trema (1981) [13:35]
György LIGETI (1923-2006)
Sonate pour alto (1991-1994) [22:12]
Franco DONATONI (1927-2000)
Toccatina (1986) [7:08]
Giancinto SCELSI (1905-1988)
Manto (1957) [14:29]
Genevičve Strosser (viola)
rec. 10-12 December 2009, Ircam, Paris
AEON AECD 1100 [71:21]

Experience Classicsonline

As all good composers know and appreciate, the viola is not a second-rate violin useful only as an inner voice in orchestra or string quartet. Like comparing an Ocelot with a domestic cat, the viola is a very different animal. Reproduced on the cover of this disc, Ligeti’s quote about its tone qualities having “a unique acerbity, compact, somewhat hoarse, with an aftertaste of wood, earth and tannic acid” sum up this individual quality as well as any other description to which I could point.

This modern recital is by its very nature a rather demanding listen, but Genevičve Strosser’s excellent playing is expressed in a recording which not only picks up every nuance, but even seems to reveal the gesture and physicality of the musicianship required to cope with the demands made by these works.

As a starter, Heinz Holliger’s Trema is an extended exercise in texture and intensity, with a slowly moving harmonic development disguised over a mad display of colour and gestural double-stopping and hyperactive bow work. The central work in this programme is from an entirely different world, György Ligeti exploring only the single low C-string of the viola in the first movement of his six-movement Sonate. The opening Hora lungâ uses microtones like folk-intervals or vice-versa, and is a meditative single line which rises towards an end in diffuse harmonics. As one might expect with Ligeti, uneven but logical sounding rhythmic patterns appear, the instrument always used idiomatically and quasi-folk like, almost transferable to the open fields in its dances and laments but still confronting us with a world of detailed and powerfully expressive musical language. The six-minute Fascar is the central movement which, written strictly in two parts, keeps our compass pointing towards the Balkans in its almost wilful resistance to conventional Western European cadence. Technical fireworks are on display in the Prestissimo con sordino, which is ‘at the limits of the playable.’ Poignant and sparing, the lonely tones of the Lamento are followed by a short Chaconne described by the composer as using the word’s original meaning, “a wild, exuberant dance in strongly accentuated ľ time with an ostinato bass line.”

Franco Donatoni’s Ali begins with an unrelentingly cyclical ‘rondo’ of more or less dramatic figures, “exhausting material that is almost indifferent, indefinitely turned around, tracked and bothered” in the words of Martin Kaltenecker’s booklet notes. The second of the two movements is the more convincing, full of dashing layers and swift rough glissandi like words from a crowd: “what? who?” Helmut Lachenmann’s Toccatina was originally for violin, and it was apparently Genevičve Strosser who persuaded the composer that this piece would be playable on the viola. The language of the instrument is extended in the use of numerous unconventional but highly effective means and techniques, with an exploration of the viola which seems at times determined to break the will or identity of the instrument, going no further than scrapes and tapping on the strings and odd little sounds from the wood of the bridge or soundbox. Exploration of sonics is something also associated with Giancinto Scelsi with his aesthetic of celebrating sound, but the effects in Manto are as different as you could imagine. This piece is by a long way the old man of this collection, but sounds as modern as anything else on the disc with its abstract lines: notes singing and wailing but in a language we can’t really understand – in the final movement quite literally, as the player sings strangeness along with the strangeness of the viola.

This is a fascinating recital of some potent solos for the viola. Ligeti’s Sonate has top billing, but the other works in the programme also offer plenty of rich contemporary music pickings. This won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, and you have to be prepared to enter a world of dissonance and straining strings as well as one of enigmatic mystery and complex intellectual stimulation. Once you are engaged as a listener this is however a recording which generates an electric atmosphere, and can be considered something of a reference for the works presented. None of the pieces here have much competition in the recorded catalogues, though there is a quite richly eloquent recording of the Ligeti Sonate by Antone Tamestit on the Ambroisie label AM111 which, coupled with Bach’s BWV 1004 Partita No.2, pits a nicely turned great Chaconne against Ligeti’s ‘wild dance’ and neatly sidesteps the other tricky repertoire if you seek to avoid it.

Dominy Clements


































































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.