One of the most grown-up review sites around

2019
51,800 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


Yes we are selling
Acte Prealable again!
£11 post-free


we also sell Skarbo

and Oboe Classics


TROUBADISC

with Eggebrecht we get all the excitement we can handle

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

Vraiment magnifique!


Quite splendid


Winning performances


Mahler Symphony 8
a magnificent disc


a huge talent


A wonderful disc


Weinberg Symphonies 2 & 21
A handsome tribute!


Roth’s finest Mahler yet


Mahler 9 Blomstedt
Distinguished performance

 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Seven Fantasias, Op.116 (1892) [19:42]
Three Intermezzi, Op.117 (1892) [13:49]
Six Piano Pieces, Op.118 (1892) [20:41]
Four Piano Pieces, Op.119 (1892-93) [14:02]
Ariel Halevy (piano)
rec. no details supplied
ROMÉO RECORDS 7312 [68:23]

Unusually, there seem to be no recording details included in this release – I’ve searched but failed to find them. I have to assume that the Brahms pieces were recorded fairly recently, as Ariel Halevy is still young – he was born in 1976 – and almost certainly after the series of composer-themed recitals he gave between 2008 and 2010.

That very minor mystery to one side, he has chosen to programme Brahms’ late solo works as a sequence in opus number, thus forming a solid chronological block. Unimpeachable logic, certainly. He has also written the insightful and extensive notes, which are strongly informed by his specific insights, not least into harmonic matters. He clearly has a strong affinity with these works and is often an assured guide but sometimes fails fully to convey the expressive qualities of the music. It’s good that he doesn’t seek to replicate Wilhelm Kempff’s fatally leaden approach to the first Capriccio of the Op.116 set but instead adopts an approach nearer to that of the tensile strength of the pre-war Wilhelm Backhaus. And yet the second Capriccio sounds a bit doughty – the phrasing and articulation lacking grandeur, and the second Intermezzo’s pushing and pulling sounds a touch effortful.

These rubati, whilst not lacking expressive warmth, sound increasingly predictable as the recital develops, the second Intermezzo of the Op.118 set being a case in point. And the playing of the Romanze from this set has a literal, rather objective cast to it, which lacks inwardness and also a sense of the music’s quasi-improvisatory quality. For all his clarity Halevy sounds rather spick and span. The Op.117 set is perhaps the best interpreted of the four sets – chordally well weighted, well balanced. Whilst he could be said to harden his tone too much in the first of the Op.119 set he takes good tempi for the four, in the main, and plays the Rhapsody without any forcing of the tone. Though even here there’s something just a little uninvolving, a little cramped about his playing.

There’s clearly something to like about Halevy’s approach to Brahms in this reasonably recorded disc but I think a more successful recital would have been to co-opt one of the sonatas, or to have contextualised these pieces in some way. As it is there is a lot of uneven playing here.

Jonathan Woolf

 

 



We are currently offering in excess of 51,800 reviews


Advertising on
Musicweb


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

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
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger