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

My First Tchaikovsky Album
Pyotr Ilyich TCHAIKOVSKY (1840-1893)
Full contents list at end of review
rec. No details given. DDD
NAXOS 8.578214 [74:47]

Experience Classicsonline

This is one of a batch of CDs released together, with more to follow, in a 'My First Album' series. Naxos founder Klaus Heymann declares this to be "one of our most important projects with music for children." The aim will be that parents buy these "albums" for their young children and get them interested in real music before the omnipresent media ruthlessly drown it out with commercial pop. Maybe Heymann would not put it quite like that, but art music, driven to the peripheries of culture by neo-liberal globalisation and post-modernisation, certainly needs as many initiatives like this as it can get, even to maintain its parlous position in the collective consciousness. What a pity these CDs are not given away by national health services to every new mother!
Each disc consists of around 15 to 25 pieces of music - bleeding chunks, to be sure - that have been specially selected (as they say) as a gentle but inspiring introduction to the subject matter: in this case Tchaikovsky. On other volumes it’s ballet, the violin, the lullaby, ‘classical music’ and so on. This is the first dedicated to a composer rather than a theme, with Mozart and Beethoven volumes already on the way.
Virtually all the music consists of single movements drawn from larger works. Throughout the series a few tracks are marked with the dread word 'extract', or as here, 'opening': the music is ignominiously faded down like a pop song, which can only be counted as a black mark against the project. If these CDs are to be "the ideal springboard for a lifelong journey through classical music", then surely children should understand from the outset that it is not meant to be faded? That full works are also frequently lengthy is not a lesson that will be learnt here either. The average timing comes in around the three-minute mark, but this is something probably wisely left for older children, with the two six-minute-odd pieces on this disc at least pointing in the right direction.
The CD booklets are attractively designed with youngsters in mind, with a fairy-tale-style pencil/pastel drawing on the cover and many smaller colourful ones on every page - in this volume inevitably including a swan and a Cossack. Inside, after a brief introduction to the subject - 150 words or so - each item on the disc is allotted a 'Keyword', such as 'Grand', 'Christmas', 'Four', 'Magic' or 'Tckaikovsky at the Piano'. Then follows a paragraph of description, in straightforward language that should be intelligible to children as young as five or six, and unpatronising up to about ten or eleven. The texts enlarge on some of the things going on in the music, either as heard in the instruments or in the story itself, generally with a mention of the mood of the piece and often asking the child to listen out for or do something, such as "Can you clap its 1-2-3, 1-2-3 rhythm?" There is often at least one exclamation mark in every paragraph!
Tucked away at the back of the booklet can be found details of performers, rightly judged to be of little importance to nascent listeners, but a necessary reference for parents wishing to delve further into the music, whether on their child's behalf or perhaps - why not - for themselves. There is one misprint that should amuse children: "There are 12 seasons in the year, so Tchaikovsky wrote 12 little pieces for his piano work The Seasons." Whereas some composers would be amused to read that "a string quartet always has these four instruments: two violins, one viola [...] and one cello".
As far as the recordings themselves are concerned, it must be said that Naxos have drawn widely on the back catalogue bargain basement. Some are twenty years old or more and their age often shows itself in the thin or tinny quality of the audio, such as in the Ondr(ej Lenárd orchestral recordings or some of the piano pieces. On the other hand, the intended audience is not hardcore audiophiles but children, who will probably not notice, and some recordings have aged more gracefully. Still, there seems no obvious reason why Naxos did not use newer, better recordings here - it is hard to see how there could be any copyright issues when all the music comes from their own releases. Perhaps the idea was, quite understandably, to wring a few more sales out of old stock.

Some of the programme choices - "famous tracks as well as unexpected gems" - seem a bit wilful or baffling: it is hard to imagine many children being captivated by 'O Sing that Song'. Listeners are bound to come away with the erroneous impression that Tchaikovsky mainly wrote waltzes. Instead Naxos might have included the finale of the 1812 Overture or a section of the Mozartiana Suite or the Rococo Variations, not to mention the Andante cantabile from the First String Quartet instead of the Two Movements, for maximum impact. On the whole, and in smaller, six-year-old-sized doses, there is probably enough here to keep children entertained. What happens then is up to parents. For starters they can find more Tchaikovsky on 'My First Ballet Album' (8.578205).
Collected reviews and contact at

Full contents list

a Overture (from: The Nutcracker) [3:24]
a Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy (from: The Nutcracker) [1:47]
a Dance of the Toy Flutes (from: The Nutcracker) [2:23]
b Waltz (from: Serenade in C, for strings, op.48) [3:53]
c O Sing that Song (from: Six Romances, op.16, arr. for piano) [3:00]
k None but the Lonely Heart (from: Six Romances, op.16, arr. for piano) [3:26]
d Nocturne in C sharp minor, op.19 no.4 (arr. for cello & orchestra) [4:48]
e Allegro non troppo e molto maestoso (excerpt) (from: Piano Concerto no.1, op.23) [3:13]
f Waltz (from: Eugene Onegin) [6:21]
g April: Snowdrop (from: The Seasons, op.37b) [2:24]
g May: May Nights (from: The Seasons, op.37b) [3:51]
h Cossack Dance (from: Cherevichki) [3:21]
i Nathalie-Valse, for piano [1:10]
j Allegretto in E (from: Four Movements, for string quartet) [1:08]
j Allegro vivace in B flat (from: Four Movements, for string quartet) [1:37]
l Goblet Dance (from: Swan Lake) [3:57]
l Spanish Dance (from: Swan Lake) [2:09]
m Natha-Valse (from: Six Pieces, for piano, op.51) [3:10]
n Allegro moderato (from: Symphony no.5, op.64) [5:38]
o Sad Song (from: Twelve Pieces, op.40, arr. for violin & orchestra) [3:24]
o Russian Dance (from: Twelve Pieces, op.40, arr. for violin & orchestra) [2:31]
p Panorama (from: Sleeping Beauty) [2:42]
p Waltz (from: Sleeping Beauty) [4:34]
a,l Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra / Michael Halász
b Vienna Chamber Orchestra / Philippe Entremont
c,i,m Oxana Yablonskaya (piano)
d Maria Kliegel (cello)
d National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland / Gerhard Markson
e Joseph Banowetz (piano)
e,f,p Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra / Ondr(ej Lenárd
g Ilona Prunyi (piano)
h Ukraine National Symphony Orchestra / Theodore Kuchar
j New Haydn String Quartet
k Péter Nagy (piano)
n Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra / Antoni Wit
o Takako Nishizaki (violin)
o Queensland Symphony Orchestra / Peter Breiner




























































































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.