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

£11 post-free anywhere
Normal service resumed


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


Recordings of the Month


Beethoven String Quartets

Produzioni Armoniche

Seven Symphonic Poems

Shostakovich VC1 Baiba Skride
Tchaikovsky Symph 5 Nelsons

Vivaldi Violin Concertos



Beethoven Piano Concertos

Stradal Transcriptions

LOSY Note d’oro

Scarlatti Sonatas Vol 2


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

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

Hans PFITZNER (1869-1949)
Symphony in C major, Op.46 [17.19]6
Konzertstück, Op.86 [18.24]1
Symphonic Studies¸Op.13 nos. 11 and 12 (orch. Tchaikovsky) [8.10]2
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Die Heimkehr aus dem Fremde Overture Op.89 [7.12]3
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Hungarian Dances Nos. 5, 6, 11, 16 (orch Albert Parlow) [12.59]4
Anton WEBERN (1883-1945)
Langsamer Satz (arr. Gerard Schwarz) (1905) [13.43]5
Robert Bonnevie, Mark Robbins, David C Knapp, Scott Wilson (horns)1
Seattle Symphony Orchestra/Gerard Schwarz
rec. Seattle Opera House, 23 March 19891; September 1988 and February 19922; 19 May 19913; December 19964; 17 April and 8-9 February 19935; April 19966
NAXOS 8.572770 [77.47]

Experience Classicsonline

One is most grateful to Naxos for their continuing rescue job on the old Delos Seattle Schwarz catalogue, in which they are including not only the invaluable issues of American works but also a large number of other readings of works which have either never been previously issued – such as the Pfitzner symphony here – or have had only limited circulation and critical notice in the past. This disc is a most peculiar collection, only very loosely bound together by the theme of romanticism; but it assembles a number of valuable performances which would otherwise have slipped through the net.
The major work here is indeed the Pfitzner Third Symphony, which was also the most recent track recorded. Those who are expecting a work of full-blown romanticism like the composer’s opera Palestrina may be surprised by the somewhat severe neo-classical style of the music, which although it has been recorded a number of times remains obstinately unknown to the general listener. The only other modern recording which remains available is that included in the 1994-95 five-disc set of orchestral music (review) recorded by the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra under Werner Andreas Albert, in which two discs (available separately) contain the three symphonies. Although the Bamberg recordings are invaluable for giving us the opportunity to hear Pfitzner’s orchestral music, they are not the most stupendous of performances. They also suffer from some of the most incredibly technical booklet notes, which may just possibly have made some sense in their original German but are almost totally incomprehensible in English translation: “the great clarity of Pfitzner’s music gestus in the two symphonies,” we are informed, “is both their strength and their weakness: what is an associative plus proves to be an aesthetic minus.” Schwarz’s performance here is much more than just a ‘run-through’. He has obvious affection for the music, and he gets his orchestra to deliver a performance than is ripe and satisfying; the brass playing at the beginning, rich and virile, knocks spots of the Bamberg recording. DG once issued an early stereo recording of this same symphony under Ferdinand Leitner, but it did not long survive in the catalogues and never seems to have made the transition to CD. In any event one cannot imagine that they would have bettered the reading here. Those who love the music of Pfitzner – and I am certainly one of them – despite its obvious flaws will obviously want the complete Bamberg recordings on CPO, but even for those this recording will be an essential supplement.
The other real rarity on this disc is Gerard Schwarz’s own transcription of Webern’s early “slow movement”, originally written for string quartet but here realised for full string orchestra. It may seem odd to find Webern included in a collection of romantic music, but this is a very early work indeed, written long before Webern embraced serialism. The richness of the string playing inevitably recalls Mahler, but there is also more than a hint of Elgar’s Elegy for strings in some of the writing, even though one doubts that Webern ever heard a note of Elgar. There are a lot of recordings of this piece in its original string quartet version, but only one other with chamber orchestra (by the Moscow Virtuosi) appears in the current catalogue; there was also a 2003 version with string orchestra given by the Lucerne Festival Strings, but this appears to have succumbed to the deletions axe. I have not heard the former; but the latter, with a much smaller body of strings, sounds pale by the side of this Schwarz reading.
I suppose the two Schumann Symphonic Studies should also be classed as rarities, because the orchestrations by Tchaikovsky are not otherwise available on disc; but the two movements which Tchaikovsky orchestrated really deserve to be classed as no more than student exercises in orchestral technique – which is precisely what they are. The booklet notes by Paul Schiavo suggests that the scoring “foretells the skilled orchestral composer he would become” but they sound little more than highly proficient, a mildly interesting footnote to Tchaikovsky’s student career but no more than that.
The Brahms Hungarian Dances and the Mendelssohn overture are also well performed, but the Brahms items are hardly rarities and form a rather forlorn group without their companion pieces; and the Mendelssohn piece, one of the products of his prodigious teenage years, does not rise to the heights of other works of that period in his development. The Schumann Konzertstück on the other hand is a real masterpiece, fiendishly difficult to play even today (which probably explains its rare appearances in the concert hall) with passages rising to high E which must cause problems even to players equipped with modern double horns and which must have been next to impossible in 1849. The four players here are splendid, rising to the challenges with no signs of effort. Schwarz accompanies with a will, and this is a scintillating performance.
This disc may therefore seem a rather mixed bag, a collection of odds-and-ends from various sessions; but there are some magnificent performances here and those of the Pfitzner, Webern and Schumann Konzertstück are among the best available. Given that these are the longest tracks on the CD, the rest of the items can be regarded as makeweights to some excellent readings.
Paul Corfield Godfrey

CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads




































































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.