One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

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

Amilcare PONCHIELLI (1834-1886)
Fantasy on Motifs from the Opera La Traviata for Trumpet and Orchestra (1869) [11:15]
Euphonium Concerto in E-flat, Op 155 (1872) [13:23]
Trumpet Concerto in E-flat, Op 198 (1867) [10:05]
Gran Capriccio in F minor for Oboe and Orchestra, Op 80 [11:20]
Trumpet Concerto in F, Op 123 (1866) [14:20]
Giuliano Sommerhalder (trumpet); Roland Fröscher (euphonium); Simone Sommerhalder (oboe)
Mecklenburg State Orchestra, Schwerin/Matthias Foremny
rec. Staatstheater, Schwerin, Germany, June and July (trumpet) 2010

Experience Classicsonline

Instrumental works by Italian opera composers always come as a surprise. This program proves more unexpected than most. The wind concerto probably isn't a genre that immediately suggests Ponchielli, offhand. Before hitting his stride as an opera man, the composer spent his galley years as a wind-band conductor; four of these works date from that stage of his career. The early, undated Gran Capriccio was originally for oboe and piano, though the score's indications of "tutti" and so forth suggest that it was conceived for orchestral performance. The present realization is by Wolfgang Höhensee. Max Sommerhalder expanded the original wind-band accompaniments of the other four items for orchestra.
The three official concertos and the capriccio all follow the same basic pattern. Each begins with an introductory ritornello of the sort that might herald a full three-movement concerto, with those of the euphonium concerto and Opus 123 being fairly substantial. With the solo entry, however, the form broadly follows the tripartite aria-and-cabaletta model of bel canto opera, with each theme subject to embellishment and variation. In the capriccio, contrasting episodes provide additional, "horizontal" variety in the cabaletta section.
The music itself is all appealingly wrought and displays an almost extravagant level of melodic fecundity. Don't expect the sweeping, veristic style of La Gioconda, however. The broad, ornamented lyric lines are straight out of bel canto, while elsewhere there's a rhythmic snap - as in the jaunty little march theme at 4:02 of the E-flat concerto - that's more nearly akin to early-to-middle Verdi.
The Traviata fantasy might suggest something cheesy, in the order of all those Maurice André transcriptions of the 1970s and 1980s. In fact it leaves a much more positive impression than that. Ponchielli wrote it for the tromba, a larger, lower instrument than the standard Italian cornetto. While the composer does throw in some upward excursions, he also exploits the instrument's warm, expressive tenor midrange in cantabile melodies. Operaphiles expecting an analogue to Liszt's operatic fantasies for piano, however, may be taken aback by a potpourri of mostly inconsequential choruses rather than popular arias. Among the latter, only the tenor's De' miei bollenti spiriti and the theme of - for lack of a better description - Violetta's death ensemble come into play.
The soloists are all excellent. Giuliano Sommerhalder's clear, open tone transcends the stereotype of the virtuoso trumpeter. He shapes the ornamental bits and the cantabiles alike with a natural-sounding flexibility though his moments of impulsive rushing are less well considered. He projects each note with a pillowy, unpressed tone, even in staccatos. The rapid-fire writing in the concluding portion of Op. 123 dazzles, as does the row of perfect trills that follows. He phrases that tenor melody in the Traviata fantasy with a "vocal" sensitivity.
Unlike the trumpet, the euphonium doesn't immediately lend itself to flourishes. Its horn-like mouthpiece must be devilishly difficult to control though it's well-suited to lyrical writing. Roland Fröscher acquits himself well, even if all the notes in the fancy passagework don't quite speak dead center. The oboist in the Gran capriccio, Simone Somerhalder, produces a nice, full tone, plangent but never wheezy. She's expressive in the legato lines and deft in the decorations. I'd like to hear her in the Mozart and other standard concertos.
Matthias Foremny leads assured, stylish performances. I actually thought I was hearing Italian players, albeit very well-disciplined ones, before I checked the booklet.That said, the inner strings betray a few dry moments, if you listen closely. The recordings, as heard in ordinary stereo, are fine. I attribute the more vivid registration of the orchestra in the capriccio to a fuller, more vivid orchestral arrangement rather than to a difference in engineering. The soloists are front and center, but not exaggeratedly so.
Stephen Francis Vasta
Stephen Francis Vasta is a New York-based conductor, coach, and journalist.
























































































































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.