One of the most grown-up review sites around

52,700 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

Works for Voice by György Kurtág


Best Seller

Cyril Scott piano music

Hahn Complete Songs

Piano Sonatas 6,7,8 Osborne

Symphony for solo piano

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 disc from
Karol SZYMANOWSKI (1882-1937)
12 Etudes, Op. 33 [14:37]
Masques, Op. 34 [27:44]
4 Etudes, Op. 4 [14:03]
Métopes ‘Trois Poèmes’, Op. 29 [18:10]
Cédric Tiberghien (piano)
rec. 10-12 March 2013, Henry Wood Hall, London.
HYPERION CDA67886 [74:36]

Many would consider Karol Szymanowski the most celebrated Polish composer of the twentieth century. Well-read, well-travelled and with an avid interest in the arts and architecture, his early music was influenced by Wagner and Reger. Later he broke free of these shackles and his music became more harmonically adventurous, impressionistic, exotic and more economic of texture. Debussy and Ravel became influential.

The earliest pieces here are the 4 Etudes, Op. 4 composed between 1900 and 1902 and dedicated to his cousin Natalia Neuhaus, sister of Heinrich who became the teacher of both Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels at the Moscow Conservatory. Taking inspiration from Chopin’s Etudes, Szymanowski’s Etudes have echoes of Scriabin permeating their fabric. The composer employs bold harmonic language throughout. The third Etude became his most popular piano piece, a great favourite of Paderewski.

Fast forward the clock to 1916 and we come to the 12 Etudes, Op. 33, dedicated to the French pianist Alfred Cortot. Marked by a condensed brevity, each displays a contrast in tempo, texture, mood and colour. Again they hark back for inspiration to Chopin’s 24 Etudes. They make great technical demands on the pianist, and I found them no easy listen.

A year earlier in 1915, Szymanowski composed Métopes ‘Trois Poèmes’, Op. 29. He took as his inspiration the reliefs or metopes at the Sicilian temple of Selinunte and now housed in the National Museum in Palermo. These he saw on a trip to Italy four years earlier. Each of these miniature tone poems draws on Greek mythology: L’ile des Sirènes, Calypso and Nausicaa. From his earlier piano works, the composer has moved forward by leaps and bounds with this work, breaking away from German neo-romanticism and embracing the impressionism and influences of Ravel and Debussy. Métopes have remained popular with pianists since they were first published in Vienna in 1922, indeed no less than Artur Rubinstein took the work into his repertoire.

1915-16 saw the composition of Masques, Op.34. Like Métopes, it is also in the form of a triptych. Its form is impressionistic, with complex harmonic structure and free narrative form. Each piece recalls a famous literary character: Queen Sheherazade (Sheherazade), Tristan (Tantris le Bouffon) and Don Juan (La Sérénade de Don Juan).

Having already recorded Szymanowski’s complete works for violin and piano with the violinist Alina Ibragimova, one of his regular recital partners, this is the French pianist’s first solo album for Hyperion. He clearly has an affinity with and real understanding for these works. Pianistically demanding, his attention to detail and phenomenal technique meets all the challenges head-on. His kaleidoscopic spectrum of tonal colour and wide dynamic range are well suited to this music. Tiberghien’s beauty of sound is captured by the recording engineers, who achieve a pleasing and satisfying aural perspective. Francis Pott’s comprehensive, analytical liner-notes — in English, French and German — are a bonus in setting this less than familiar music in some sort of context. I found them extremely informative.

All told, this is music well worth exploring.

Stephen Greenbank