One of the most grown-up review sites around

51,000 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


colourful imaginative harmony
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Leticia Gómez-Tagle
Chopin, Liszt, Scarlatti

Bax Piano Music

Guillaume LEKEU

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Acte Prealable returns
with New Releases

Superior performance

Shostakovich 6&7 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem Thielemann

Marianna Henriksson
An outstanding recital

Arnold Bax
Be converted

this terrific disc

John Buckley
one of my major discoveries

François-Xavier Roth
A game-changing Mahler 3


Bryden Thomson


Vaughan Williams Concertos

RVW Orchestral


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

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
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
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
Poul RUDERS (b.1949)
Nightshade Trilogy
Nightshade (1986) [9.12]
The Second Nightshade (1991) [16.44]
Final Nightshade (2003) [24.23]
Capricorn/Oliver Knussen
Odense Symphony Orchestra/Paul Mann, Scott Yoo
rec. Studio 1, Danish Radio, Copenhagen; Carl Nielsen Hall, Odense, Denmark, 1987-2014
BRIDGE 9433 [50.19]

This release combines two previously issued recordings of the first two Nightshades (review; review) coupled with a new rendition of Final Nightshade. The whole is now billed as a ‘Nightshade Trilogy’. Actually leave may be taken to doubt whether the three works really constitute a ‘trilogy’ in the sense of a connected whole, since there is no musically thematic connection between any of the pieces; rather they are a cycle of three similarly named compositions, as if we were to talk of a set of ‘Beethoven symphonies’. They are also scored for very different combinations of instruments – the first for a small chamber ensemble, the second for a classical orchestra with added percussion and trombones, and the third for full modern symphonic forces. Indeed they serve better to illustrate the evolution of the composer’s music over the period of seventeen years during which they were written.

The first work, simply entitled Nightshade, is very much in Ruders’s early style, with much emphasis on woodwind instruments at the extremes of pitch – piccolo contrasted with double bassoon and double-bass clarinet, for example. The results are not particularly alluring ... at any rate by comparison with the composer’s more recent works. Although the playing under Oliver Knussen is competent and committed there remains some uneasy sense of the whole failing to cohere.

The Second Nightshade, commissioned for Peter Maxwell Davies’s St Magnus Festival in Orkney, sounds almost like a conscious tribute to the British composer. The music emerges from a solitary bleakness into a final section of moonlit clarity which is positively beautiful in places. The work is subtitled a ‘symphonic nocturne’ which describes it admirably. It is not the fault of Ruders if some of the orchestral effects he employs – violin glissandi laid over the textures, thudding bass drum and sharp brass interjections – have become almost a lingua franca of modern composers in the two decades since the work was written. The result is that the music has an unfortunate tendency to sound rather like something we have heard before.

The Final Nightshade is something different, a lengthy meditation on a viola theme drawn from Ruders’s earlier Corpus cum figuris (1985). There are extended almost monodic lines scored for various instruments in unison and harmony. The subtitle ‘an adagio of the night’ clearly expresses exactly what Ruders had in mind. At the time of its first performance in New York under Lorin Maazel some critics clearly hated it, with complaints of boredom in “over-extended passages”. I found that the music held my attention throughout, and there was never any lack of interest. Perhaps the performance here was superior to that under Maazel — although both appear to have been approximately the same length. The Odense players under Scott Yoo clearly relish their extensive solo opportunities.

Despite the various ages of the recordings, the sound throughout is thoroughly consistent, with plenty of air around the various combinations of players and everything admirably clearly focused. Although the disc is rather short measure — any chance of a successor to the ‘final’ Nightshade? — it provides a thoroughly rewarding experience. It also affords a useful conspectus on the evolving style of the composer.
Paul Corfield Godfrey