One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,196 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

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


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


Plain text for smartphones & printers

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month


Symphonies 1, 2, 3



Aho Symphony 5

Dowland - A Fancy


Rachmaninov_ Babayan


Opera transcriptions & fantasias


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

Schubert Symphony 9



Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Violin Concerto No.1 in A minor, BWV1041 (1717-23) [14:25]
Violin Concerto No.2 in E major, BWV1042 (1717-23) [18:03]
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756-1791)
Violin Concerto No.3 in G major, K216 (1775) [21:19]
Violin Concerto No.4 in D major, K218 (1775) [22:23]
Bronislaw Huberman (violin)
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Issay Dobrowen
Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra of New York/Bruno Walter (K218)
rec. June 1934, Vienna, except K218, rec. live 16 December 1945, Carnegie Hall, NYC

As Mark Obert-Thorn notes, all Huberman’s Bach and Mozart Concerto recordings are for the first time to be found on one disc. True, but somewhat stretching a point as Mozart’s D major Concerto (the inlay mistakenly labels it in F major) is an off-air performance recorded after the end of the Second World War and thus of a wholly different nature to the June 1934 studio sessions in Vienna that generated the two Bach concertos and Mozart’s in G major.
Pearl issued all three a long time ago (GEMM CD9341) in transfers by - would you guess? - Mark Obert-Thorn, another case of a restoration engineer if not actively chasing his own tail, then at least having the opportunity to revisit earlier work, and better it. Music & Arts released the D major on an all-Huberman disc, CD-299, coupled with Tchaikovsky’s Concerto, conducted by Ormandy in 1946.
The salient question for collectors long familiar with these performances is whether these latest transfers are effective. They are certainly cut higher and more brightly than the earlier Pearl transfers. There is more clarity in the sound spectrum and less congestion. The sound is thus now sharper - though not in terms of pitch! - with the soloist’s tone more centred in the perspective between himself and the orchestra. I suspect - though I could be wrong - that Obert-Thorn worked with English Columbia pressings for Pearl, but for Pristine he has utilised American ones. So I account them a distinct improvement over the earlier work. That is certainly also the case with the off-air Mozart in relation to its incarnation (by another engineer) on Music & Arts. The D major is now far less gloomy-sounding and its militant quality has been successfully tamed.
Those coming afresh to these performances will need to acclimatise themselves to Huberman’s very personal tonal qualities, his razory articulation, on-off vibrato and propensity for non-linear phrasing and famously frequent indulgence of staccato. They will enjoy the strongly hewn Vienna bass-line supporting him. For all that one may have reservations over aspects of his playing - I’ve never quite been able to reconcile myself to his phrasing in the second part of the slow movement of the A minor concerto, for instance - Huberman is incapable of dullness, and keeps phraseology alive. The piano continuo is best heard in the E major concerto, not least in the bridge passage to the tutti in the first movement. Huberman’s white bleached tone is affecting in the slow movement, the pathos of his playing, too, along with pervasive portamenti.
His accompanist in Vienna was Issay Dobrowen, with whom he clearly had a good rapport. Their Mozart G major is a reasonably good one - there’s a notably fine cadenza - and even phrasal oddities such as that insinuating ‘leading in’ that Huberman indulges evince personality. The finale is rhythmically uplifting. The D major is a much later off-air affair, made a couple of years before Huberman’s death. Time has told by now. The opening is scratchy, though things do improve. There’s a hard-to-ignore individuality about him, though except for archival reasons I don’t suppose anyone would want to hear Bruno Walter accompanying Huberman in preference to Zino Francescatti in 1958.
Still, for Huberman admirers and these recordings, these are now the transfers to have.
Jonathan Woolf

Masterwork Index: Bach violin concertos