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
Sound Samples & Downloads

Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Wagner and Weber Transcriptions
Tannhäuser: Overture, S442/R275 (1848) [17:28]
Tannhäuser: O du mein holder Abendstern, Recitative and Romance, S444/R277 (1848) [8:44]
Two pieces from Tannhäuser and Lohengrin, S445/R278 (1852)
No. 1. Entry of the Guests [11:50]
Am stillen Herd from Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, S448/R281 (1871) [10:44]
Walhall, from Der Ring des Nibelungen, S449/R282 (1875/1876) [7:12]
Der Freischütz: Overture, S575/R289 (1846) [11:04]
Steven Mayer (piano)
rec. 26-29 April 2009, St. Anne’s Church, Toronto, Canada
NAXOS 8.570562 [67:32]

Experience Classicsonline

An earlier volume in this enterprising series, Liszt’s Donizetti transcriptions, gave me much pleasure, not least for the magisterial playing of William Wolfram (review). Steven Mayer, an academic and performer whose repertoire includes jazz as well as classical, is new to me, but given the quality of this project so far I had high hopes for his recital. And while Liszt’s transcriptions for piano are a tad uneven, one just has to hear the Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde to realise he’s a master of the genre. Sadly, that piece isn’t on this disc, but there’s a good sprinkling of excerpts from Wagner’s œuvre, plus a single item from Weber’s.
The Tannhäuser transcriptions begin with a restrained and rather beautiful rendition of the overture. At first I warmed to Mayer’s unassuming pianism and the clear, natural recording, the piano given a pleasing scale and presence. There’s plenty of detail and nicely judged dynamics, but in truth I prefer a more charismatic keyboard manner. As for that well-known tune, ‘Evening Star’, Mayer plays it with poise and refinement but little feeling. That said, there’s an inner glow to the music – a serenity, perhaps – that’s most appealing. Generally, I find Mayer’s phrasing a touch studied at times, a striving for effect that mars otherwise engaging performances.
How would he handle the thrust and sparkle of the ‘Entry of the Guests’, I wondered? Quite well, as it turns out, crisp articulation the most attractive feature of Mayer’s playing. But what I miss is the sense of scale and spectacle that others find here; in short, Mayer has the letter of these scores but not the spirit. I concede this is all about preferences, and I suspect there are many Lisztians who will prefer Mayer’s restraint, which is put to good use in the wonderfully transparent Meistersingers transcription. Now if only he were more spontaneous this would be very special indeed.
Not surprisingly, these criticisms apply to the Ring excerpt and the proto-Romantic overture to Weber’s Der Freischütz. Both sound absolutely gorgeous – this is some of the most alluring piano sound I’ve heard from Naxos in a long time – but where’s the drama? Try as I might, I just could not banish the image of a highly competent pianist busking his way through these scores, always scrupulous but ultimately uninspiring. Frankly, I’d much rather hear Wolfram in these pieces, which would benefit greatly from his more commanding – even theatrical – keyboard style.
Beautiful, but rather lacking in soul.
Dan Morgan


































































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.