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


colourful imaginative harmony
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Leticia Gómez-Tagle
Chopin, Liszt, Scarlatti

Bax Piano Music

Guillaume LEKEU

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Acte Prealable returns
with New Releases

Superior performance

Shostakovich 6&7 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem Thielemann

Marianna Henriksson
An outstanding recital

Arnold Bax
Be converted

this terrific disc

John Buckley
one of my major discoveries

François-Xavier Roth
A game-changing Mahler 3


Bryden Thomson


Vaughan Williams Concertos

RVW Orchestral



We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

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

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
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

Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
Humoreske Op.20 (1839)
Einfach. Sehr Rasch und leicht [6.16]; Hastig [4.55]; Einfach und zart. Intermezzo [4.55]; Innig [2.49]; Sehr lebhaft. Mit einigem Pomp [3.29]; Zum Beschluss [6.49]
Fantasiestucke Op.12 (1837)
Des Abends [3.40]; Aufschwung [3.06]; Warum? [2.46]; Grillen [3.12]; In der Nacht [3.49]; Fabel [2.36]; Traumes Wirren [2.19]; Ende vom Lied [4.48]
Emanuel Ax (piano)
rec. October 1981, RCA Studio A, New York City
NEWTON CLASSICS 8802084 [55.29]

Experience Classicsonline

Emanuel Ax recorded these early Schumann masterpieces more than thirty years ago. In these performances he demonstrates all the qualities that have made him such a consummate all-round performer and musician. He displays enormous variety of tone not to mention his refined and elegant phrasing and rubato. There’s also that superb technical ability and digital articulation when required.
He starts with the Humoreske which was composed when Schumann was embroiled in legal battles with his intended father-in-law over his wish to marry Clara. The term Humoreske denotes sudden changes in mood and is more a reference to ‘humours’ than humour. In general terms Ax is better in the lyrical sections representing Eusebius than in the fiery mania of the Florestan passages. Those quicksilver changes of mood are not always convincing here. A gorgeous tone is conjured from the Steinway in the dreamy opening and the melody is delineated with great sensitivity and refinement. The ensuing sehr rasch und leicht section is played with rhythmic vitality and flair. I am not entirely convinced that Ax captures the underlying sense of unease in the second section or the mercurial quality underpinning the sudden mood-changes. The third section is very well executed while the Innig fourth section is played with evident warmth and humanity. Some of the playing in the penultimate section is extremely fine but I would have liked to hear more of the possessed and unbridled elements that one finds in other performances - compare Lupu. The phrasing in the final section was immaculate with Ax relishing the rich harmonies. While there is admirable playing here - one expects nothing less - it was a rather mixed event.
I preferred Ax’s interpretation of the Fantasiestucke set which, for my money, was played with much greater musical insight and imagination. These eight short pieces were composed two years earlier than the Humoreske. They were inspired by Schumann’s admiration for the author E.T.A. Hoffmann. Des Abends is played with poetic sensibility. The figurations unfold naturally and with grace. There’s vigour and drive in Aufschwung which is allowed to soar with energy coursing through some of the figurations. In Warum? Ax uses the cross-rhythms to quicken the pace and deftly brings out its questioning nature. There’s an authoritative Grillen in which artful rubato lays bare the whimsical and quirky nature of the piece. It’s wonderfully characterised. In der Nacht was a little too neat and tidy and Ax was only partially successful in conveying its highly atmospheric qualities. The whimsical narrative at the heart of Fabel is beautifully conveyed while the whirling figurations of Traumes Wirren are dispatched with virtuoso élan. Schumann described Ende vom Lied as a combination of wedding bells and funeral bells. Ax gives it muscularity and invests the huge chords with a radiant tonal warmth. That said, I was not persuaded that he completely captures Schumann’s residual anxiety at the end. There have been many great performance of Fantasiestucke - Richter is absolutely outstanding as is Leon McCawley in his more recent recording - and I am not sure this one is up there with the very best. Nevertheless it contains some rewardingly excellent playing.
Robert Beattie 





























































































































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.