One of the most grown-up review sites around

55,946 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

3 for 2 Offer

All Forgotten Records Reviews


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

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets
All Foghorn Reviews

Puertas de Madrid
All EMEC reviews
All EMEC reviews

All Reference Recordings

Eugène Ysaÿe: Violin Discoveries
All Divine Art Reviews

Debussy Complete Preludes



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
All Naxos reviews

All Chandos reviews

All Hyperion reviews

All Foghorn reviews

All Troubadisc reviews

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

All Lyrita Reviews


Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month




Symphonic Works

Frederico Mompou

Extraordinary Music for Organ



Edvard GRIEG (1943-1907)
Piano Concerto in A minor Op. 16 (1869) [28:20]
Alexander SCRIABIN (1872-1915)
Piano Concerto in F sharp minor Op.20 (1897) [26:28]
Friedrich Wührer (piano)
Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra/Karl Böhm (Grieg), rec. 1944, Vienna, live broadcast
Pro Musica Orchestra, Vienna (Vienna Symphony Orchestra)/Hans Swarowsky (Scriabin), rec. December 1954, Vienna

Forgotten Records has disinterred an LP with a history. When the Grieg was issued on Royale 1264 in 1952 it was listed as being played by Gerhard Stein with the Berlin Symphony, directed by Karl List. In fact it was Friedrich Wührer with the Vienna Philharmonic directed by Karl Böhm in 1944. This was rectified on its next release on Urania, where the real names replaced the pseudonyms. Why the false names? Partly because this was an Austrian radio recording, and not a studio recording – and Royale wanted to give the impression of a commercial undertaking. Possibly also because, by all accounts, Wührer was a bit of a bad egg and had been almost as enthusiastic a supporter of National Socialism – if that is possible - as his pianist confrère, Elly Ney. What seems not to be in doubt is that as later as 1952, when the Royale LP was released, he was refused teaching positions in East Germany because of his war record.
Naturally this is all interesting, biographically and politically. It’s also indicative of the subterfuge that was endemic in certain areas of the recording industry at the time and, indeed, for years to come. Wührer is an impressive pianist. I admire his Beethoven recordings, the cycle of concertos that he recorded, and those sonatas that have been preserved. His traversal of the last sonatas marries digital finesse with an intellectual clarity to produce readings that are eloquent without being romanticised. He was not a known exponent of the heroic repertoire and there were off-days. The very bright radio sound has a touch of ‘halo’ about it. It’s not enough to cover some far from note-perfect playing from a pianist who reveals frailty in both the opening chords and, more catastrophically, at the very end where there are fistfuls of wrong notes. In between things are better. The orchestral accompaniment is over-sugared with some very sleek string lines. Wührer’s natural austerity of expression has a directional power to it, not least in the first movement cadenza, after which some rather precious phrasing by the Vienna strings rather robs the music of nobility. The sentimentalised string playing in the slow movement contrasts powerfully with the pianist’s patrician reserve. In the finale the biting over-balanced trumpets spit fire but towards the final peroration the balance is unkind to the pianist - and perhaps the conductor is too. For stretches Wührer is swathed under the burnished colours of the Vienna Philharmonic; the pianist can just about be heard, usually in the treble. Maybe it’s that which led to his making a hash of the final chords.
The Scriabin F major Concerto was recorded with Hans Swarowsky, once again in Vienna, in 1954. The orchestra was the Pro Musica Orchestra, Vienna – in other words the hard-working Vienna Symphony. This is another recording in which tensions generate interesting results. This is objectified, almost romantically classicized Scriabin in which clarity trumps colour. It’s akin to performances of Debussy’s piano music by Daniel Ericourt and George Copeland, in contradistinction to those of Gieseking. Here Wührer plays the crystal-clear objectifier to the atmospheric drama exemplified by someone like Sofronitsky. Despite his reputation for elevated aloofness of expression there are times when, allied to his refined palette, the music does indeed generate a strange gravitational pull in his hands. It’s certainly unconventional but it is also diverting to hear.
I daresay these historical performances will enjoy only a relatively small hearing circle but I can certainly note that the transfers are, as so often from this source, exemplary in their fidelity. No notes.
Jonathan Woolf

Masterwork Index: Grieg piano concerto