One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

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
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month



From Ocean’s Floor


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience



Buy through MusicWeb
for £12.49 postage paid World-wide.

Musicweb Purchase button

Darknesse Visible
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Gaspard de la nuit (1908) [23:29]
Thomas ADÈS (b.1971)
Darknesse Visible (1992) [7:42]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Suite bergamasque (1890) [16:52]
Ronald STEVENSON (b.1928)
Fantasy on Peter Grimes (1971) [8:59]
La Valse (1919-20) [12:02]
Inon Barnatan (piano)
rec. 8-10 February 2010, The Performing Arts Center, SUNY Purchase, New York City
AVIE AV2256 [69:27]

Experience Classicsonline

Inon Barnatan was born in Tel Aviv in 1979 and has lived in New York since 2006. He has played in major NY venues (Carnegie Hall, Metropolitan Museum, Alice Tully Hall) and with leading US orchestras (Cleveland, Houston, Philadelphia, San Francisco). He has chosen here – and presents in his booklet notes – a programme based around the concept of darkness. The piece by Thomas Adès which gives the disc its name combines Milton’s image of “darkness visible” with the archaic spelling of Dowland’s “In darknesse let me dwell”, on which the piece is based.
While some pianists go for bell-like clarity in the opening figuration of Ravel’s “Ondine”, Barnatan’s performance is dominated by a glistening, liquid loveliness. The music seems to have all the time in the world to unfold and, indeed, he takes about a minute longer than Gieseking, a quarter of a minute longer than Monique Haas. The result is warm and involving, never heavy. In “Le Gibet” the tolling bell is kept well separated from the luminous chords, which never lose their richness or their eerie calm as things get complicated about halfway through. “Scarbo” is an electrifying display of darting malignance, realized in pianistic terms by many passages of scary, unpedalled clarity. What worries me a little is that in some of these latter the Durand score, presumably following Ravel’s wishes, actually marks some fairly generous pedalling. However, we know that Ravel prized clarity and so would surely have applauded rather than criticized, especially when the results are wholly convincing.
I am sure that Barnatan’s wide range of colouring is wholly beneficial to the piece by Adès, which takes the notes of Dowland’s song one by one, sounding them out with a ringing tone and separating them by much flurried activity. I am obviously aware that Adès has acquired a reputation and a following not easily achieved by a “classical” contemporary composer, but I have been out of the UK for many years and this is my first encounter with him. Maybe it was not a good introduction, since it merely reiterates the sort of pointless doodling that used to pass for contemporary music in the 1970s. I might as well never have been away.
Barnatan makes slightly heavy weather of “Suite bergamasque”. He underlines each harmonic change in the “Prélude” whereas Noriko Ogawa points the changes just as well without disrupting the flow. She also manages longer lines in “Clair de lune” and a more tripping innocence in the two dance movements. Quite rightly, Barnatan notes that “Debussy brings nostalgia and a tinge of melancholy even to these light-hearted dances – a quality he shares with Schubert, who often smiles through tears”. At this point in his career, however, he is not quite so effective as Ogawa in bringing out this quality.
Ronald Stevenson’s “Fantasy on Peter Grimes” created some interest in my university days when a number of us were looking for a suitable piece to play in the contemporary section of the Edinburgh Competitive Festival, the brief being “a published work by a composer born or resident in Scotland”. Stevenson’s “Grimes Fantasy” had just been announced but had not yet appeared in print. One of my colleagues actually wrote to Stevenson and received a photocopy of the manuscript in return, which he eventually performed, though maybe not in the competition.
I recollect thinking it a rather drab work. It certainly has abundant colour here. That doesn’t seem to resolve the central problem of how it is possible to take, and recognizably use, themes from one of the most potent, atmospheric and involving operas of the 20th century, and make them say nothing at all.
“La Valse” is, quite simply, stunning. Barnatan’s control of texture, rhythm, rubato and overall structure combine to create an overwhelming effect. The final catastrophe has an awesome power that has to be heard to be believed. I haven’t always been convinced by the piano version of this piece. Yet now I think that, the next time I want to listen to it for pure pleasure, I may well choose Barnatan ahead of the several excellent orchestral recordings on my shelves.
This latter clinches the value of the record for me. Up till then I was wondering who it was really aimed at. Excellent “Gaspard”, but most people will have an excellent “Gaspard” already. If you want Adès or Stevenson, wouldn’t you want more of each or both, or other contemporary repertoire? Debussy good, but better can be found. Then “La Valse”. At this point I had to conclude that Barnatan was not just a good, or even excellent, pianist. Anyone who can give a performance of “La Valse” like this one is, at least potentially, a great pianist. So go and get it. Even if you buy the disc just for this, it’s a performance without price.
Christopher Howell


































































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.