One of the most grown-up review sites around

53,992 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                     Editor in Chief: John Quinn              

Some items
to consider

Chopin Edition 17CDs
now available separately
£11 post-free anywhere


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

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets


Recordings of the Month


Opera transcriptions & fantasias


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

Schubert Symphony 9


Jean-Baptiste LEMOYNE

Enescu Ravel Britten

Debussy Images etc.

53 Studies on Chopin Études 1
Konstantin Scherbakov (piano)




REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from

Sommernachtskonzert 2015
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
Vienna Philharmonic Fanfare (1924) [2:35]
Carl NIELSEN (1865-1931)
Maskarade: Overture (1904-6) [5:29]
Edvard GRIEG (1843-1907)
Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16 (1868/1906) [29:26]
Peer Gynt Suite No. 1, Op. 46 (1874-5/1888) [15:18]
Christian SINDING (1856-1941)
Frühlingsrauschen, Op. 32, No. 3 (1896) [3:27]
Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Finlandia, Op. 26 (1899-1900) [9:22]
Hans Christian LUMBYE (1810-1874)
Kopenhagener Eisenbahn-Dampf-Galopp (1847) [4:21]
Rudolf Buchbinder (piano)
Vienna Philharmonic/Zubin Mehta
rec. live, Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna, May 2015
SONY CLASSICAL 88875075772 [69:58]

I wasn't familiar with the "Summer Night" Concert series before this. Wikipedia explains that it's an annual outdoor concert given by the Vienna Philharmonic at the Schönbrunn Palace, which was first held in 2004. Since admission to these concerts is free, the CD, paradoxically, costs more than did the actual performance. Zubin Mehta's 2015 programme comprised Nordic music, save for the opening Vienna Philharmonic Fanfare, played by the ensemble's brass and timpani with full-toned authority.

The programme's centrepiece is the Grieg piano concerto, and it's odd that it took this long for the piece to work its way into Mehta's discography. The conductor is certainly attuned to its open-hearted lyricism, although he lets the final coda succumb to thudding grandiloquence. A more congenial soloist would have been nice, however. Rudolf Buchbinder has moments of flair: his crisp articulation makes the first movement's transitions dance; he brings an improvisatory feel to the embellishments in the finale's second theme. But he's literal and self-conscious in the Adagio, with no sense of flourish or spontaneity; and his tone is comparatively shallow, not only unweighted but ungiving.

The Peer Gynt selections fare better, although Mehta can be casual about ensemble. In Morning Mood, the various parts don't dovetail precisely; some of the brass punctuations speak late in In the Hall of the Mountain King. The conductor allows the flute soloist in Morning Mood some rhapsodic freedom, and shapes the tuttis forthrightly, though the landings aren't always neat. He brings sufficient weight to Åse's Death to offset his flowing tempo, and builds Anitra's Dance in broad arcs.

Idiomatic piano writing rarely adapts well to the orchestra -- think of the various attempts to orchestrate Chopin -- but the arrangement of Sinding's Frühlingsrauschen is beautifully evocative of the bubbling and rushing of spring, until Mehta and the Vienna brass decide to make heavy weather of the climax. Finlandia is full of character: the strings are fervent in the chorales, the oboes sob plaintively, and the big tune, expressive but not sentimental, moves along. It also takes in a few miscalculations. The low brasses sustain the opening with power, but the broad tempo leaves the woodwinds creaking, stiffly, from note to note; and, again, transitions are momentarily uncertain.

Mehta's old recording of the Inextinguishable Symphony (Decca), made back in the 1970s, showed some flair for Nielsen's style. This Maskarade Overture, however, sounds merely ill-at-ease. The opening isn't objectively too slow, but feels weighted-down. The bows sit too long on the strings, so the scurrying violin figures aren't mercurial. The second theme goes with a nice combination of delicacy and fullness, but the waltz subject that follows lacks exuberance.

The broad, lyrical start of the Lumbye encore doesn't suggest any sort of Galopp, but, after a few clangs -- the Eisenbahn, remember -- and bird calls, the score becomes a cheerful, boisterous "train piece" on the order of Johann Strauss's Galops.

The sound is vivid enough, with the engineers leaving in enough applause to suggest a sense of occasion.

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


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

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