Schubert sonatas

Newest Releases

Piano solo and duet
  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Some items
to consider

Free classical music concerts by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.

British composers

  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo
  • Stellar debut<br>piano recital
  • Clarinet transcriptions Jonathan Cohler
  • Jonathan Cohler & Claremont Trio
  • French clarinet masterpieces
  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo

Shostakovich Symphony 10 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem

Dvorak Opera Premiere

Grieg, Mendelssohn sonatas




Would you like a hyperlinked weekly summary of the CDs we have reviewed?

Click for further details

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Prima voce
Red Priest
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Bassolo; XX and XXI centuries’ Contrabass Music
CD 1
Ryszard GABRYS (b.1942)
An die Freude for bass and voice (2004) [6:44]
Il cicerone for bass and arco instruments (2005) [19:47]
Witold SZALONEK (b.1927)
Musica concertante for bass and orchestra (1977) [27:01]
Edward BOGUSLAWSKI (1940- 2003)
Concerto-Fantasia for bass and strings (1999) [19:04]
CD 2
John CAGE (1912-1992)
59½ seconds for a string player (1953) [1:06]
Gérard GRISEY (b.1946)
Échanges (1968) [5:03] ²
Thomas LAUCK
Tu ha’ ‘l viso più dolce [4:51]
Andrzej DZIADEK (b.1957)
For Alexander (2009) [7:38]
Michael ROTH (b.1954)
Kavalkade (2008) [1:20]
Giacinto SCELSI (1905-1988)
C’est bien la nuit (1972) [2:54]
Helmut OEHRING (b.1961)
Foxfire zwei (1993) [7:42]
Gwyn PRITCHARD (b.1948)
Music for double bass and harp (1969) [7:09] ¹
Alfred KNÜSEL (b.1941)
Cadenza III (2009) [1:28]
Junghae LEE (b.1964)
Iyon – passage (2007) [10:49]
Jevgenij IRŠAI (b.1951)
Fremotonia (2002) [5:36]
Iannis XENAKIS (1922-2001)
Theraps (1976) [12:44]
Aleksander Gabrys (bass) with
Filharmonii Slaskiej/Czeslaw Grabowski, rec. live Katowice, February 2009 (Szalonek)
Orchestra Kameralna ‘Camerata Impuls’/Malgorzata Maniowska, rec. Studio Polskiego Radio Katowice, 2004 (Boguslawski)
Orchestra Kameralna ‘Camerata Impuls’/Malgorzata Maniowska, rec. live Katowice, December 2007 (Gabrys -Il cicerone)
Consuelo Giulianelli (harp) ¹
Jürg Henneberger, Daniel Buess (piano) ²
rec. Studio Koncertowe Polskiego Radia Katowice, 2010, except as above
DUX 0800-01 [72:36 + 68:20]

Experience Classicsonline

This is a redoubtable and in many ways remarkable collection of works written for the double bass. Many are stamped with the successive waves of uncompromising modernity that succeeded from the 1960s until today, but the aesthetics and means differ from composer to composer, generation to generation. There are two discs. The first is devoted to works with orchestra and the second is very largely solo, albeit there are small contributions in a couple of cases from other solo instruments. The vast burden of the 2 hours and twenty minutes thus falls on Aleksander Gabrys, who was born in 1974 and is the son of the composer Ryszard Gabrys, with whose music we begin.

An die Freude, for bass and voice, was written in 2004. It generates a disturbingly parodic effect, with the bassist being required to intone, sigh and slither the immortal words in a way that will, perhaps, remind one of Peter Maxwell Davies’s experiments in this arena. Il cicerone employs shouts too, and plenty of portentous, turbulent aesthetic. Covering quite some sonic ground, there’s humour here, a fine series of terraced dynamics, as well as a sense that the music is moving toward a kind of concerto grosso, a feeling reinforced when a Bach Chorale is quoted. Witold Szalonek’s Musica concertante is a powerful work, one that moves from quietude, ‘from silence’, through ominous accompanying string writing to an increasingly distraught conclusion. Edward Boguslawski’s Concerto-Fantasia for bass and strings also starts in a reserved way, but there’s a deal of dour material here, as well as a kind of sublimated neo-classicism, and calm lyricism, amidst the more angular inventions.

The second disc is almost all solo. There are some important names here — Cage, Scelsi and Xenakis are the most notable — but also some well known other composers too. Gabrys plays Cage’s 1953 59½ seconds for a string player on an (authorized) Bulgarian gadulka, a folk instrument that has been well recruited for the job. The succession of solo bass works reveals the variety of means open to the contemporary composer, whether it involves vocalising, quotations, or shredded violence. Thomas Lauck goes for Wagnerian quotation and vocalising whereas Gérard Grisey employs piano accompaniment of an especially terse kind. Michael Roth seems to draw on a variety of mildly crazed precursors; his piece sounds like something Hunter S. Thompson might have experienced after taking mescaline. Or, maybe, it’s the equivalent of jazz bassist Slam Stewart meeting William S. Burroughs. Helmut Oehring prefers a siren keening, Gwyn Pritchard pursues avant-garde rancour, Junghae Lee infiltrates electronics, and Jevgenij IrŠai is another in the long list who thinks that the bassist should vocalise too. However visually productive this may be in recital, the musical effect is, almost always, negligible.

Amidst the modish, garish and parvenu modernism on display we find an oasis. One such is Scelsi’s C’est bien la nuit, a work that so horribly dwarfs its disc-mates in means, intensity and directness of emotional response, that it’s almost painful. Nor, in its very different way, should one overlook the brilliant tour de force that Xenakis constructs in Theraps, with its quarter tones, glissandi, five octave span and stunning aural impression. It’s truly amazing in every respect.

It takes an exceptional bassist to encompass the wildly differing demands of the repertoire espoused in this two disc programme. No praise can be too high for Aleksander Gabrys and his colleagues, or for the way they’ve been recorded, and the discs annotated.

Jonathan Woolf


































































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.