MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2023
Approaching 60,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
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 Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

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

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

Haskell SMALL (b.1949)
Lullaby of War, for narrator and piano (2007) [29:47]
Renoir's Feast, for piano (2005) [27:17]
Three Etudes in Sound, for piano (1993) [7:15]
Martin Rayner (narrator)
Soheil Nasseri (piano)
rec. Traumton Studios, Berlin, 22-24 November 2007; Westmoreland United Church of Christ, Bethesda, Maryland [narration]. DDD

Experience Classicsonline

This is US composer-pianist Haskell Small's debut CD on Naxos. He has appeared either as composer or pianist on several other discs over the last twenty years, sometimes in both capacities together - see this review, for example. These are premiere recordings apart from Renoir's Feast, which was released in 2006 by the unfortunately-named New York label, Museum Music (MM14), featuring Small himself on the piano.

The headline work, Lullaby of War is deeply moving. In fact, it is a masterpiece. Small describes it as "both an expression of outrage at our perpetual rationalizations for making war and an offering of compassion for its victims." It consists of six anti-war poems - two about the American Civil War, two from World War I and two modern pieces, linked together by what Small describes as a "prayer theme".

That may sound worthy but unpromising, but the poetry is very well chosen - from Stephen Crane's War is Kind to Uri Zvi Greenberg's Naming Souls and ending with Paula Tatarunis's Guernica Pantoum, based on Picasso's famous painting - and beautifully read. Those unexcited by the thought of an over-the-top Broadway-style narration need have no fear - Martin Rayner was born and brought up in England and his accent, though very slightly Americanised, remains mild, mellifluous and non-rhotic, with no affectations or irritating peccadillos - a mispronunciation of "Guernica" and the American rendition of "shone" aside! More importantly, of course, Rayner is evidently a fine actor, old-school in a good way - 'Shakespearean' - and has thought carefully about every phrase.

Furthermore, Small's music reflects the texts marvellously: it is intense, ironic, exhortatory, sad, militaristic and angry, and makes imaginative and poignant use of silence and resonance. The work is altogether brilliantly played by Iranian American Soheil Nasseri, who commissioned the work and gave its world premiere in 2007.

The poem texts are not included in the booklet, but can be downloaded for free from the Naxos website. The Lullaby of War, with the piano part effortlessly performed by Small himself, can be watched in a series of four YouTube videos on the composer's website. Narration is here shared by Rayner and a female voice, and poignant war images underline the power of Small's music.

Soheil Nasseri also gave the world premiere of Renoir's Feast, which provides a different take on Mussorgsky's Pictures from an Exhibition. Small has taken Pierre-Auguste Renoir's famous painting, Le Déjeuner des Canotiers ('Luncheon of the Boating Party'), which depicts a group of a dozen or so of Renoir's friends relaxing on a balcony alongside the Seine, and created a kind of musical story about the scene and the characters in it, including not only the two coves in proto-muscle-vests but even Renoir as he painted it, with the individual items connected by a 'river' theme. As with Mussorgsky's masterpiece, no familiarity with the painting is necessary, given that Small has invented his own characterisations for Renoir's friends - the generally energetic, often witty piano music works just as well on its own. Small does give free rein to his imagination, and thus Renoir's Feast is a mixture of styles, always in modern language that leans heavily towards the atonal - though not so as to render it unapproachable.

Three Etudes in Sound is a considerably earlier work than the first two, but impressive nevertheless, despite its short duration. According to Small the Studies are less concerned with virtuosity and more with "color and sound control". The section titles are illuminating in this regard: "Sound Layers", "Sound Swirls and Spikes" and "Sound Sustained". The Etudes are like something Stockhausen might have written if he had taken a less egotistical, more audience-friendly path!

Sound quality is excellent, the CD booklet brief but informative. Amusingly, there is a small photo of Small, in black and white, whereas Rayner - looking curiously like Small's younger brother - and Nasseri both get a big colour one.

In sum, this is one of those occasional discs that really does live up to the 'American Classics' label.

Collected reviews and contact at






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

Past 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.