One of the most grown-up review sites around

52,000 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

Yes we are selling
Acte Prealable again!
£11 post-free

we also sell Skarbo

and Oboe Classics


with Eggebrecht we get all the excitement we can handle

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

absolutely thrilling

immediacy and spontaneity

Schumann Lieder

24 Preludes
one of the finest piano discs

‘Box of Delights.’

J S Bach A New Angle
Organ fans form an orderly queue

a most welcome issue

I enjoyed it tremendously

the finest traditions of the house

music for theorbo
old and new

John Luther Adams
Become Desert
concealing a terrifying message

ground-breaking, winning release

screams quality

Surprise of the month

English Coronation, 1902-1953
magnificent achievement

Plain text for smartphones & printers

We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 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

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


Support us financially by purchasing
this disc through MusicWeb
for £10.50 postage paid world-wide.

Heinrich ERNST (1812-1865)
Complete Music - Volume Four
Violin Concerto in F sharp minor, Allegro pathétique, Op.23 (1846) [19:31]
Violin Concertino in D major, Op.12 (1837) [20:58]
String Quartet in B flat major, Op.26 (1862) [26:33]
Sherban Lupu (violin)
Sinfonia da Camera/Ian Hobson
Ciompi String Quartet
rec. April 2013 (Concerto and Concertino), Foellinger Great Hall of the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, University of Illinois and March 2013 (Quartet), Sound Pure Studio, Durham, North Carolina
TOCCATA TOCC0189 [67:02]

Volume four in the Complete Ernst series from Toccata takes on his major work for solo violin and orchestral forces, the Concerto in F sharp minor, composed in 1846 in Leipzig. It was there that he took advice from Ferdinand David, dedicatee and first performer of the Mendelssohn Concerto and the man who also received the dedication of Ernst’s own Concerto.
As Mark Rowe’s customarily excellent notes make clear, Ernst found a new seriousness in this work and its form is important; compressed yet with a quasi-improvisatory freedom. Thematically it is also removed from the more frivolous aspects of virtuoso vehicles of the time and it’s a moot point as to whether this is, in fact, a one-movement work or a concerto subdivided into three linked movements. For the record, Toccata has generously given six tracking points to include some important structural pillars.
It requires a thoughtful and stylistically aware violinist to chart the course between the lyrical and the more tensely terse and introspective aspects of the concerto. There is surely no-one today so actively involved in Ernst’s music as Sherban Lupu and he navigates these expressive poles with great assurance. Above all, there are his timbral inflexions and phrasal grace to consider, the way he appreciates the requirements of cantilena and colour in his tone. Shading and shaping, technical virtuosity - these include some perilous demands as the work progresses - are all conveyed with subtlety and finesse.
The Concertino in D major is both earlier and less interesting. It’s a genial, rather obvious virtuoso vehicle couched in Paganinian mould. And whilst there are plenty of digital and expressive opportunities it doesn’t add up to so satisfying a whole. That said, the question of Ernst’s pathos is well dealt with in the slow movement where Lupu responds with kindred tone.
A competitor disc here is on Naxos 8.557565, in which Ilya Grubert, with the Russian Philharmonic Orchestra under Dmitry Yablonsky, performs both the Concerto and Concertino. In the Concertino, Grubert proves a more conventional player, his phrasing being suave, and his tone less malleable and plastic than that of Lupu. In the major work, the Concerto, Grubert is altogether more cosmopolitan in his responses, drawing attention to the admittedly exceedingly difficult octave passage rather than riding through it, as does Lupu. I prefer Lupu and Ian Hobson. But one cannot forget the old 1974 Supraphon LP starring violinist Lukas David with the Prague Symphony under Libor Hlváček. There is much to admire about this performance, and in its panache and bravura it is superior to either CD recording. The wind playing is also more personable and more characterful than that of Ian Hobson’s Sinfonia da Camera. Aaron Rosand’s old Vox performance, alas, is both very fast and very superficial.
Couplings may, however, alter perceptions. Toccata offers the String Quartet in B flat major, about which little positive can really be said, other than I’m glad that it was recorded and it has a lively Allegretto. The first movement is terribly stodgy but the Ciompi String Quartet does what it can. Grubert offers the Fantasie brillant on the Romance from Otello, Op.11, the Elégie sur le mort d’une object chéri and the Op.20 Rondo. These are all works central to Lupu’s Toccata series.
If I were to make the choice, I’d go once more for Lupu, and those who have followed him thus far will not be disappointed with his playing.
Jonathan Woolf 

Review of earlier releases in this series
Volume 1 ~~ Volume 2 ~~ Volume 3