52,943 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

Chopin Edition 17CDs
now available separately
£11 post-free anywhere


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

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets


Recordings of the Month


Jean-Baptiste LEMOYNE

Enescu Ravel Britten

Debussy Images etc.

53 Studies on Chopin Études 1
Konstantin Scherbakov (piano)



Che fai tù? - Villanelles

Cyrillus KREEK
The suspended harp of Babel

violin concertos - Ibragimova

Peteris VASKS
Viola concerto - Maxim Rysanov

The Complete Lotte Schöne





Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


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


CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
String Quartets arranged for String Orchestra
String Quartet in G minor, Op. 27 (1878) (arr. Alf Årdal) [35:03]
String Quartet No.2 in F major (1891) (arr. Alf Årdal) [19:29]
Arne NORDHEIM (1931-2010)
Rendezvous (1986) [21:55]
Oslo Camerata/Stephan Barratt-Due
rec. 17-21 August 2009, Lommedalen Church, Oslo, Norway. DDD
NAXOS 8.572441 [76:45]








CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Two Elegiac Melodies, Op.34 (1880) [8:47]
Two Melodies for String Orchestra, Op.53 (1890) [8:20]
From Holberg’s Time: Suite in the Olden Style (1884) [20:06]
Two Lyric Pieces, Op.68 (1897-99) [7:10]
Two Nordic Melodies for String Orchestra, Op. 63 (1895) [11:07]
Lyric Suite Op.54, (1905) [15:42]
Malmö Symphony Orchestra/Bjarte Engeset
rec. 25-27 May 2009 (tracks 1-14); 24-25 August 2006 (tracks 15-18), Concert Hall of the Malmö Symphony Orchestra, Sweden. DDD
NAXOS 8.572403 [72:13]
Experience Classicsonline

These are two Scandinavian issues from Naxos, both mostly recorded in 2009 under Norwegian conductors and devoted to arrangements of Grieg’s music for string orchestra. Many of his compositions originally written for piano or chamber instruments ended up arranged for the string section of a symphony orchestra. Some were expressly written for that grouping. Grieg himself encouraged what we might call the ‘Big Band Sound’ and often urged a “bigger the better” approach, naming sixty strings as ideal. So there shouldn’t be too much of a purist issue regarding whether music such as the quartets or piano items “ought” to be arranged in this manner.
The first disc uses arrangements made by Norwegian conductor Alf Årdal. According to violinist and conductor Stephan Barratt-Due, “The depth given by adding a double bass, and the variety in using solos and tutti, gives in our opinion, the pieces a new dimension combining both the intimacy of Grieg and lifting the richness of the romantic expression in the pieces.” That gain in rich sonority must be offset against the loss of contrast. In comparison with the leaner sound of a string quartet, there is a certain inevitable homogeneity produced by a larger, beautifully co-ordinated string band. It tends to emphasise the more consolatory ideas at the expense of the stark immediacy created by the harmonic clashes of only four instruments. Romantic yearnings predominate over raw, psychological anguish. Nonetheless, this is another, valid way to experience music which comprehensively puts to bed any lingering caricature of Grieg as a chocolate-box composer. This is not perhaps amongst Grieg’s best or indeed most popular music. One senses that he was not entirely comfortable in the idiom, which might explain why he left incomplete the second quartet, begun in 1891 and still unfinished at his death, and why certain musical ideas occasionally seem to lack inspiration. On the other hand, so much is skilled and delightful that the music is self-recommending to anyone who wants to explore Grieg’s output in different guises.
Tempi are very similar to previous string quartet versions, so there is no unseemly lingering and no lack of tension. If you want to hear the original string quartet version, I recommend that by the Raphael Quartet, available either as a single Regis disc or as part of a 3 CD Brilliant issue of Grieg’s complete chamber music. They play the completed version of the second F major quartet, whereas here we have only the first two movements, giving room for another item.
In truth, although it was enterprising idea to include recently deceased Norwegian composer Arne Nordheim’s Rendezvous as a twenty-minute makeweight, I would sooner have had the third and fourth movements of the F major quartet as completed by Grieg’s friend, Julius Röntgen. Rendezvous is the result of the composer following his predecessor’s precedent and in 1986 expanding his quartet so that it can be played by a string orchestra. It is an intense, gloomy work exploiting the contrast between grumbling lower and soaring upper strings. It is one which I shall leave others to comment upon, as it is not in an idiom to which I respond, being mostly to my ears reminiscent of Shostakovich in hyper-depressive mode.
The second disc, conducted by Bjarte Engeset, who contributes a long and very informative essay in the CD notes, is Volume 6 in the acclaimed Naxos “Grieg Edition”: a compilation of Grieg’s finest music for strings, reflecting his love of mountains, folk music, folk tales and all things Norwegian. Although Grieg’s voice is always his own, international influences resulting from his travels to Leipzig, Copenhagen and Rome and his exposure to Wagner’s orchestration are clearly apparent. Debussy’s oft-quoted aphorism that when listening to the Lyric Pieces “one has in one's mouth that bizarre yet delightful taste of pink bon-bons filled with snow” applies far more to this collection in general than to the arrangements of the string quartets. It is often assumed that Debussy’s observation carried more than a hint of a sneer about it yet a more generous interpretation could embrace the idea that it conveys the cool, bracing streak in Grieg’s music which offsets sentimentality. Certainly there is often a darkness or a melancholy about it which pulls at the heart-strings. The two concluding movements of the Holberg Suite are typical of the profound, elegiac quality Grieg can evoke through the simplest of means such as the dialogue between the upper and lower strings in the Air or the duet between solo violin and solo viola in the Rigaudon, both exploiting the pathos of G minor. The words “lyric” and “elegy” are by no means antithetical in Grieg. The profound loneliness of a distant, keening oboe which begins Evening in the Mountains has something of the quality of the shepherd’s cor anglais in the opening of Tristan und Isolde. Grieg wrote in a letter to his biographer that the “essential feature of Norwegian folksongs … is a deep melancholy … mysterious darkness and unbridled wildness”, qualities typified in the impassioned performance here of In Folk Style, the first of the Two Nordic Melodies. Yet when Grieg is in pure pastoral mode, such as in the simple, beguiling melody of Cow-Call, nothing could be more charming and insouciant.
The standard of playing on both discs is very high throughout. I prefer a little more pace and attack in the Prelude of the Holberg Suite but by and large everything – instrumental balance, phrasing, tempi and colouration – is judged to a nicety.
The sound quality of both recordings is exemplary; these days, especially where Naxos is concerned, it is rare for it to be otherwise. Even though they contain mainly miniatures and music specifically orchestrated to fall pleasantly in the ear, these two releases amply illustrate the combination of rare and contradictory qualities which make Grieg Norway’s greatest composer.

Ralph Moore

see review by Paul Corfield Godfrey (Naxos 8.572441)

see reviews by Brian Reinhart and Stephen Vasta (Naxos 8.572403)
































































































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.