MusicWeb International reviews more Classical recordings than any one else.

53,555 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
Normal service resumed


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


Recordings of the Month


Beethoven String Quartets

Produzioni Armoniche

Seven Symphonic Poems

Shostakovich VC1 Baiba Skride
Tchaikovsky Symph 5 Nelsons

Vivaldi Violin Concertos



Beethoven Piano Concertos

Stradal Transcriptions

LOSY Note d’oro

Scarlatti Sonatas Vol 2

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
Ferruccio BUSONI (1866-1924)
Violin Concerto in D major, Op.35a (1896-97) [23:27]
Benedictus from Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, Op.123 arr. for violin and orchestra by Busoni (1916) [8:47]
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Violin Concerto in D minor, Op.8 (1881-82) [30:47]
Tanja Becker-Bender (violin)
BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra/Gary Walker
rec. June 2013, City Halls, Candleriggs, Glasgow
HYPERION CDA68044 [63:03]

If only more violinists had followed Szigeti’s lead, perhaps Busoni’s 1897 Violin Concerto might have experienced greater exposure. He played it in New York in 1941 with Mitropoulos at a commemorative concert devoted to the composer’s memory and a recording exists, preserved on Music & Arts CD-1052, although his association with it went right back to the earliest years of the century. He’d played it to Busoni as early as 1912. The dedicatee was however Henri Petri, father of Egon, another great Busoni exponent who also performed at that 1941 concert. This is a work that ideally needs a knightly exponent as its sometimes undigested influences – which Szigeti clearly did so much to mitigate – can seem somewhat effortful in less nuanced hands.

Of recent years it’s Frank Peter Zimmermann who has laid claim to the principal place in the work’s short discography. Now Tanja Becker-Bender enters the lists. With her strong dark tone she effortlessly surmounts those passages in which Busoni has co-opted Brahms’s earlier model and infused it with hints of Dvořákian folklore. The fine wind playing irradiates the slow movement with its hints of Bruch-like lyricism. There are also examples of passagework that seem, subconsciously or not, to evoke the Beethoven Violin Concerto. This movement is strangely beautiful despite this compendium of earlier concertos. It’s as if Busoni were citing them in his own work deliberately. The carnivalesque finale is full of capricious brio and colour, its various incidents charted with great vitality by soloist marshalled in accomplished fashion by Garry Walker and his BBC Scottish Symphony forces, who have been excellently recorded. It ends the performance on a real high, not least those whooping figures with which the work closes.

Immediately following it is Busoni’s arrangement for violin and orchestra of Beethoven’s Benedictus from the Missa Solemnis in a first-ever recording. Published in 1916 this by no means outstays its welcome, though it is hard to imagining it having much of a life on the concert stage.

The companion concerto is by Richard Strauss. Completed earlier than the Busoni, in 1882, its opening movement, rather diffuse, has often caused concern and interpretative worries. But Becker-Bender plays the rather overripe and busy passagework adroitly, minimising the longueurs. She takes care not to compensate by over-vibrating, and is properly more concerned to bind together the material, which is, after all, a reflection of the youthful Strauss’ bravado and self-confidence. The lyrical central movement is well played and the finale – pirouetting and energetically laid out though not always consequentially - receives a similarly fine reading.

There are coupling questions to consider when plumping for a particular disc. On Sony Zimmermann couples the concerto with Busoni’s Second Sonata, another Szigeti speciality. Sarah Chang has recorded the Strauss with Sawallisch on EMI, adding the Strauss Sonata. The choice then lies between single-composer discs, concerto and a sonata, and Becker-Bender’s mixed repertoire. If she and Walker don’t quite scale the heights that the other two violinists display, she loses for little and if the coupling appeals then you need not hesitate.

Jonathan Woolf