One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

16th-19th November

Shostakovich 4, 11 Nelsons
Transparent Granite!

Nothing but Praise

BrucKner 4 Nelsons
the finest of recent years.

superb BD-A sound

This is a wonderful set

Telemann continues to amaze

A superb disc

Performances to cherish

An extraordinary disc.

rush out and buy this

I favour above all the others

Frank Martin - Exemplary accounts

Asrael Symphony
A major addition

Another Bacewicz winner

match any I’ve heard

An outstanding centenary collection

personable, tuneful, approachable

a very fine Brahms symphony cycle.

music that will be new to most people

telling, tough, thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded

hitherto unrecorded Latvian music


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

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

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
William Grant STILL (1895-1978)
Seven Traceries Suite (1939) [22:02]
Georges BIZET (1838-1875)
Suite L’Arlésienne; Menuetto [4:38]: Farandole (1872) [3:42]
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Piano Sonata Op.5 (1881) [31:11]
Alexander SPENDIARIAN (1871-1928)
Etudes of Erevan: Caucasian Sketches - Khaitarma [4:13]; Hidjas [4:20]
Seta Karakashian (piano)
rec. no dates or locations specified
ROMÉO RECORDS 7298 [70:36]

There’s not a lot of help here for the foundering critic confronted by a disc such as this. We know that pianist Seta Karakashian recorded an LP called Rarely Performed Piano Works, which was re-released by Roméo on CD [7227]. I’m not sure if this was followed by a second LP volume or whether this release, identified as Volume 2, is a new beginning, on CD. There are no recording dates, and no recording locations, though there is a mastering engineer noted. What’s also noted in the skimpy booklet is the fact that she performed William Grant Still’s Seven Traceries at a festival devoted to the composer in 2008. Make of that what you will, because Roméo is not going to help.
This is frustrating but shouldn’t be an insuperable problem. In fact it shouldn’t be a bar at all. Unfortunately what is an insuperable problem is the recorded sound - which is too close, harsh, splintery and unsympathetic. It robs the Grant Still of much of its atmospherics. The pedal action noise also doesn’t help, especially when Grant Still gets most Debussian. These seven character pieces are not all equally distinctive but they have their moments. The third is a ripe scherzo-like affair - very brief - and Out of the Silence fuses the most impressionistic moments with rich late-Romantic ones too. The only solution I could begin to find with the problematic recording was to reverse the normal practice when playing 78s - thus I turned up the bass and cut the treble right back, though it’s hardly ideal. In any case I would recommend the more extensive and far better recorded performances by Denver Oldham on Koch [37084-2].
Strauss’s early Op.5 Piano Sonata is hardly commonplace on disc, though it was famously advocated by that arch Straussian, Glenn Gould. Unfortunately Karakashian’s performance lacks youthful brio and drama. Its contours are reasonable, but the detail is missing and the recording is once more against her. The slow movement sounds very brittle, and is no match for the chordally suggestive romanticism cultivated by Gould. Gould was not unimpeachable here, however, so if you want a more central recommendation go for Stefan Vladar, again on Koch. The two Bizet pieces - arranged by whom? Is the Menuetto the Rachmaninov arrangement? - are augmented by two Caucasian Sketches by Alexander Spendiarian (1871-1928), redolent of Tartar folklore, quite enticing, and once more subject to recording problems including studio noise, and strange acoustic popping, in the second.
For all that there’s some interesting repertoire here, I’m afraid that this is a non-starter.
Jonathan Woolf