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
Sound Samples & Downloads

Rarities of Piano Music at Schloss vor Husum - Vol. 22 from the 2010 Festival
Track-listing at end of review
rec. 21-28 August 2010, Husum, Germany

Experience Classicsonline

I did a double take when I received this CD from Danacord. One of the composers featured was a certain Boris Pasternak. Now, like many people, I remember going to the cinema to see Doctor Zhivago, although not at the time of its original release in 1965. Apart from this I know virtually nothing about the man or his writing – except that he translated Shakespeare into Russian. So it came a a great surprise to me to see that he has ‘contributed ‘two fine Preludes and an excellent Piano Sonata to this disc.

It appears that he came from a musical family; in fact his mother was a concert pianist who had studied with Rubinstein and Leschetitzky. Visitors to the family home included Scriabin and Rachmaninov. The young Boris began to compose aged 13 and later entered the Moscow Conservatoire. However, he suddenly abandoned his musical career in favour of the study of philosophy and then became a poet and litterateur.

The Two Preludes played here by Eldar Nebolsin were composed in 1906 when Pasternak was 16 years old. As the programme notes point out, they owe much to Scriabin. Both works could well be mistaken for the elder composer and would certainly be ideal companion pieces at any recital of Scriabin’s music.

The Sonata, which was possibly the last piece of music that Pasternak composed, moves away from being totally derivative of Scriabin and begins to explore a territory of greater dissolution of tonality and structure than the Russian School. Peter Grove suggests that the form of this short Sonata should be regarded as ‘a stream of consciousness like Schoenberg’s Erwartung...’ There are some lovely moments in this work, nevertheless it could be criticised as rambling just a little. However, it is an enjoyable piece of music that is sympathetically played by Hiroaki Takenouchi and certainly deserves to be included in the pianist’s repertoire. One wonders what the musical world would have been like if Boris Pasternak had not changed his mind about his career as a composer.

The CD opens with a great performance by Marc-André Hamelin of Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach’s Sonata in E minor. This is one of a set of six works composed between 1779 and 1784 – ‘Keyboard Sonatas and free fantasias, together with some Rondos’. This music, written for the ‘forte-piano’ has a sense of freedom that borders on the improvisatory. Sudden changes of expression, key and dynamics makes this a work that holds the listener’s attention from the first note to the last.

Most amateur pianists have come across the music of the Hungarian composer Stephen Heller: there are many relatively easy ‘studies’ available in albums of ‘teaching’ music and the more straight forward repertoire. However, Heller was a composer of a wide variety of (mainly) piano music, much of it of a highly virtuosic nature. There are four important sonatas, reams of ‘character’ pieces, many operatic transcriptions and fantasies. Most of this music is not heard nowadays, in spite of a one-time enthusiasm for his music by composers as diverse as Liszt, Bizet and Massenet. It was at one time thought that Heller was ‘greater’ (whatever that may mean) than Chopin!

The two present pieces are taken from ‘4 Freischütz Studies’ which were written in 1871. They are based on themes and episodes derived from Carl Maria von Weber’s great opera Der Freischütz. Listening to these pieces easily convinces the listener that these are no didactic ‘grade’ pieces but are major virtuosic works that explore and develop the source material with great skill and panache. They are admirably played by Jean-Frédéric Neuburger.

The older I get the more I appreciate transcriptions of music from the opera. Perhaps it is because I am not an opera fan, but often appreciate the ‘tunes’ as it were. In the present case it is the lovely Flower Maiden’s Scene and Finale from Wagner’s Parsifal played by Ian Fountain. Now this is an opera that I never seen and have heard only once in my life –about 40 years ago: I should add that I have always struggled with Wagner. However this transcription by the Hungarian pianist Zoltan Kocsis is absolutely beautiful. It is much less over the top in its virtuosity than the Liszt transcriptions of Wagner’s music, however there is a depth that is quite simply ravishing.

Who the ‘magic maidens’ were does not matter for this transcription: it is sufficient that the music describes a magic garden full of gorgeous flowers. The musical portrayal of Parsifal gaining the office of Keeper of the Grail is superb. In fact, it has made me think about listening to the whole opera again!

Ferruccio Busoni is represented on this disc by two works – one from his teenage years and the other from his maturity. The fifteen year old composer had written a complete set of Preludes on all the major and minor keys. Michail Lifits chose the ‘funeral march’ Prelude in E flat minor which is the fourteenth in the series. It is a dark and lugubrious work that reveals the youthful precocity of the composer. From the quiet ‘grave’ opening it builds up into rather frightening climax and then quietens down to a sepulchral-like rest.

The other piece by Busoni, played by Giovanni Bellucci, is the All’ Italia (in modo Napolitano). This was composed or at least published in 1907 is the second of his Six Elegies (K.249). In some ways there is continuity between this work and the early Prelude in its dark and almost sinister mood. Yet there an ethereal beauty about this massive piece which moves and impresses in spite of the feeling that it describes the Naples of nightmares rather than dreams.

It is always good to have a composer’s ‘Opus 1’ to explore. In this case Peter Froundjian plays the Danish Jørgen Bentzon and his Variations on a Theme of Chopin. The theme chosen is the well-known F major Mazurka, Op.68, No.3. After the presentation of most of the original piece the composer begins on what is effectively a deconstruction of the work. As the liner notes suggest, Bentzon was not adverse to shocking listeners who revered the original! There are nine variations in all – each one being diverse and barely related to the previous one. It is not my favourite piece on this CD; however it is an interesting, if a little tedious early work by a fine composer.

The CD recital concludes with a beautiful Hommage a Fauré by the American composer Robert Helps, played by Jenny Lin. This is the first of three ‘Hommages’ - the other two being to Ravel and Rachmaninov. This short piece is in the form of three variations on a very simple theme. I am not well enough acquainted with Fauré’s music to know if this theme is a direct quote or a ‘pastiche.’ It is a very beautiful and ‘haunting’ little number that is near perfect in its effect.

Once again Danacord have given the piano music enthusiast a right royal feast of rare music – whether it is from unknown or forgotten composers, or hidden corners from the catalogues of the ‘masters.’ The playing of this music is always splendid: each pianist is quite manifestly dedicated to this repertoire and presents their selections with enthusiasm, sympathy and technical perfection.

The liner notes by Peter Grove are extremely helpful and give a detailed study of each work and its context.

Danacord have reached Volume 22 of their ‘Rarities of Piano Music at Schloss vor Husum’ series – plus a Volume 0 which showcases some early festival highlights. The edition shows no sign of becoming stale and predictable. There is quite obviously a vast array of ‘forgotten’ works ‘out there’ that are being discovered by enterprising pianists. Let us hope that some, if not all, of the music presented on this CD finds its way into the standard repertoire of concert pianists across the world. Certainly not a few of these pieces are miniature masterpieces.

John France


Sonata in E minor, Wq 59 No.1, H 281 (1784) [6:51] Marc-André Hamelin
Stephen HELLER (1813-1888)
4 Freischütz Studies, Op. 127 (1871)
No. 1 in A minor: Allegro molto [2:38]
No. 3 in C minor: Allegro con fuoco [5:10]
Jean-Frédéric Neuburger
Richard WAGNER (1813-1883) Zoltan KOCSIS (b.1952)
Flower Maidens' Scene
and Finale from "Parsifal (1877-1881) [14:52]
Ian Fountain
Ferruccio BUSONI (1866-1924)
Prelude in E flat minor, Op. 37, No. 14 (K.181) (1881) [4:18]
Michail Lifits
Ferruccio BUSONI
Six Elegies
, (K.249) (1907) No.2: All' Italia! (In modo napolitano) [7:22]
Giovanni Bellucci
Boris PASTERNAK (1890-1960)
Two Preludes (1906)
E flat minor – Con moto [1:27]
G sharp minor – Andante [4:22]
Eldar Nebolsin
Sonata in B minor (1909) [13:45]
Hiroaki Takenouchi
Jørgen BENTZON (1897-1951)
Variations on a theme of Chopin
, Op. 1 (1921) [11:23]
Peter Froundjian
Robert HELPS (1928-2001)
Hommage à Fauré
, from 3 Hommages, No. 1 (1972) [4:20]
Jenny Lin












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.