One of the most grown-up review sites around

55,603 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


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

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

Falckenhagen Flute Concertos

new releases


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


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom
Ph. 020 8418 0616


Plain text for smartphones & printers

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10


Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month



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

Alexander GRECHANINOV (1864-1956)
Complete Music for Viola and Piano
Viola Sonata No.1 in B flat major, Op.161 (1940) [16:40]
Viola Sonata No.2 in F major, Op.172 (1943) (arr. Sonata from clarinet and piano by Elena Artamonova) [14:12]
Early Morning, Op.126b (1930) (arr. Sabine Stegmüller) [14:44]
In modo antico: Suite, Op.81 (1918) (arr. Artamonova) [16:26]
Claude DEBUSSY (1862-1918)
Romance (L’âme évaporée) (1885) [1:59]; Beau Soir (1891) [2:21] (transcribed Grechaninov)
Elena Artamonova (viola)
Nicholas Walker (piano)
rec. June 2013, Potton Hall, Suffolk

Primarily known for his orchestral music, Grechaninov also wrote a sheaf of chamber works. That for viola has remained obscure. His Op.161 Sonata for viola (or clarinet) is unpublished which accounts for much of its obscurity and this is its first recording. Its premiere was given by Elena Artamonova and Nicholas Walker in London only in 2013, the same year it was recorded. The premiere was given in December but the recording was made earlier in June. Couched in sonata-form, and written between 1935 and 1940 the work proves amiable, songful and engaging. There is a high quotient of charm in Grechaninov’s chamber music, and that is an element that figures prominently here. His penchant for vocal composition ensures that the melodies are at all times winningly warm, not least in the lyric effusions of the central Canzona movement. I hear hints of Spanish music in the finale though there is certainly a strain of Russian folklore buzzing merrily throughout, and some passages sound almost like Dvořák.
The Second Sonata was written in 1943 and is actually a clarinet sonata, whose dedicatee was the great Simeon Bellison. The arrangement for viola is the work of Elena Artamonova, who has taken her cue from the earlier viola sonata and has dealt persuasively with questions of articulation and register. The work sounds convincing in its new form. Once more there’s a fine balance between the instruments, and an uncluttered and jovial quality. Toccata has gone to the trouble of separately tracking each of the variations that mark the theme and variations, with coda, of the second movement of this bipartite work. Here Slavic folk affiliations are to the fore, and a vigorous and engaging variation for solo piano too. I was most taken by the third variation where the piano’s gruff enquiries are met by a pliant viola response. There’s a viola cadenza before the spirited and exciting toccata-like coda.
Early Morning is a cycle of ten pieces written in France in 1930 for cello (or violin) and piano. It has been arranged for viola by Sabine Stegmüller and this is its first recording in this guise. Primarily this is a work of instruction for children, adept and engaging teaching material with nice descriptive titles à la Schumann, two highlights of which are the pensive In the Twilight and the deliciously deft Burlesque. In modo antico is a suite written back in 1918 for violin and orchestra or piano. This arrangement is Artamonova’s. It opens with a somewhat showy cadenza but continues in a romantic vein rather more than anything too self-consciously modo antico, though the movements sport titles such as Sarabande, Gavotte – played with deliciously zesty lift here – and Jig. Finally there are the two Grechaninov transcriptions of songs by Debussy, first published in 1946, which would make excellent recital pieces. Once again these are premiere recordings.
These richly lyrical works, all pretty much unknown, receive highly persuasive and stylistically apt performances from Artamonova – who writes the excellent booklet notes – and Nicholas Walker. Well worth getting to know, in fact.
Jonathan Woolf