One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger              Founding Editor: Rob Barnett              Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and we have not even reviewed it yet. Multiple copies sold.

La Mer Ticciati




simply marvellous

Outstanding music

Elite treatment

some joyous Gershwin

Bartok String Quartets
uniquely sensitive

Cantatas for Soprano


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Special offer 50% off

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
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this from
CÚsar FRANCK (1822-1890)
Symphony in D minor (1889) [40:38]
Ottorino RESPIGHI (1879-1936)
Pini di Roma (1924) [20:29]
Vienna Symphony/Yuri Ahronovitch
rec. live, Grosser Musikvereinsal, Vienna, March 1985
PROFIL EDITION PH08011 [61:07]

The Franck performance here is a travesty. Yuri Ahronovitch's basic musical instincts are forthright, as in the first movement's main theme but he favours extremes of tempo: the finale's two themes -- the first hectic, the second expansive -- are strikingly polar. Some of the tempo choices are counter-productive: the climax of the first-movement exposition, for example, is sodden rather than proclamatory. Ahronovitch also likes to push ahead impulsively, heedless of whether the players are staying together, or even keeping up with him. In the more involved counterpoint, balances come out every which way; the textures build in utter confusion. The more rhythmic tuttis are banged out insensitively. The uncertainty of the cellos and basses in the very second bar of the piece suggests unclear stick technique, which can't have helped; indeed, the whole thing sounds rather nervous.

In fairness, the simpler Allegretto movement allows less scope for the conductor's shenanigans, and the first theme's waltz-like lift is pleasing. Too assertive a demeanour, however, dissipates the mystery in the little wind chorales after 3:29, and the horns' entry at 8:52, on the way to the climax, is clunky and intrusive.

To matter at all, the Respighi would have to be a superior performance, and it isn't. The quieter moments are lovely. The lonely trumpet solo in the Catacombs movement is evocative; the woodwinds in the Janiculum are spacious and sensitive, with strings taking over expansively. However, the insecurity remains - at least one horn jumps the first theme by a beat - and so does the rushing. The rising, darting motifs at 0:39 start out scrambled, and, in the Appian Way, Ahronovitch pushes faster on each entry of the theme, losing any sense of cumulative power.

Forget it.

Stephen Francis Vasta
Stephen Francis Vasta is a New York-based conductor, coach, and journalist.