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
(currently suspended)


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

Bruno Monteiro (violin)

Special Price and we are still delivering

Recordings of the Month


Feinberg Piano Sonatas

Schoenberg Violin Concerto

Early Keyboard

Nun Danket Alle Gott
Now Everyone Thanks God


Haydn Scottish Songs

Choral Music

Liszt Sonata

Renaissance Bohemia


Hahn Complete Songs

Piano Sonatas 6,7,8 Osborne

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
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 from
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Sonata No 1 in G major, Op 78 (1878) [26:32]
Sonata No 3 in D minor, Op 108 (1888) [21:16]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897) - Albert DIETRICH (1829-1908) - Robert SCHUMANN (1810-1856)
F.A.E. Sonata (1853) [26:36]
Jana Vonášková-Nováková (violin)
Irina Kondratenko (piano)
rec. September-October 2013, Martínek Studio, Prague
SUPRAPHON SU 4170-2 [74:41]

Jana Vonášková-Nováková is well known for her near-decade membership of the Smetana Trio, a role she gave up in 2012. For this Brahms disc she is paired with Latvian-born, but Czech-resident Irina Kondratenko. They have collectively taken the stimulating decision to dispense with a conventional three sonata recital and instead omit the Second and substitute the complete F.A.E. sonata. Immediately this will divide potential purchasers who will possibly regret the opportunity not to be able to hear all three numbered works from a single point of view. Yet the F.A.E is not so commonplace on disc that it should be overlooked here. If one takes the view that competition on disc in the sonatas is exceptionally difficult, then the inclusion of the composite 1853 work could be taken as a bold move.
The success or otherwise of its inclusion depends on the performances as a whole. This duo is young but already exceptionally experienced, and their ensemble sounds excellent. The First Sonata is not unconscionably slow but does have a sense of melancholy portentousness that possibly makes it seem slightly slower than it actually is. This is a valid characterisation if it’s carried through with confidence, and it is. The violinist is careful to subordinate her accompanying figures in the first movement and widens her vibrato noticeably in the second. In the finale both players pick up on the nerviness of the writing, aligning it explicitly with the opening Vivace in that respect. The demerit is that the finale never truly relaxes, and is constantly buffeted by the duo’s incessant, quite high-octane playing.
Op.108 receives an intelligent, thoughtful and occasionally withdrawn reading – in the sense of the character of the music being autumnal. There’s a sweetness and a sense of tristesse about the slow movement and the sense of dynamism inherent in the presto agitato finale. Though her tone doesn’t sound especially big, Vonášková-Nováková captures a considerable amount of the tempestuousness here, abetted by the fine pianism of Kondratenko. In the F.A.E. I rather prefer, in all movements, the more phrasally idiomatic and suggestive playing of Franco Gulli with pianist Enrica Cavallo [Dynamic CDS7693]. Things are shaped more warmly and Gulli’s tone has more allure. That push-pull rhythm in Schumann’s Romanze second movement comes over better with Gulli, and in the Brahms Scherzo he is the more purposeful. This is not to suggest at all that the Czech performance is a poor one, but I think Gulli had lived with his interpretation longer and it shows.
There are however fine things in this Supraphon disc, not least a detailed, well-balanced recording in the Martínek Studio, Prague - it’s just that in the end, perhaps not quite enough for wholehearted praise.
Jonathan Woolf