MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around

56,451 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here


Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer

International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

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

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews


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


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing
this through MusicWeb
for £10.50 postage paid world-wide.

Arnold ROSNER (1945-2013)
Piano Concerto No. 2, Op. 30 (1965) [19:26]
Gematria, Op. 93 (1991) [17:32]
Six Pastoral Dances, Op. 40 (1968) [12:11]
From the Diaries of Adam Czerniaków, Op. 82, for narrator and orchestra (1986) [26:49]
Peter Riegert (speaker); Peter Vinograde (piano)
London Philharmonic Orchestra/David Amos
rec. 19-20 October 2015, Abbey Road Studios, London; 15 December 2015, Digital Island Studios, New York (Diaries)

Arnold Rosner was an unknown quantity until I listened to this compelling new CD, and acquainted myself with the accompanying sleeve-notes – appropriately designated ‘Booklet Essay’ – such is the wealth of information and depth of erudition in Walter Simmons’ accompanying text.

Born in New York City, Rosner was initially dissuaded from a career in music, but even at an early age certain sounds in particular really caught his ear – juxtapositions of major and minor chords, as well as modal melodies – the kind of note progression that predated modern scales and keys until around 1600. This he soon attempted to assimilate into his own compositions, and the early Piano Concerto No. 2 shows this in the initial stages, forging a unique musical style then to be honed and developed.

Simmons suggests that the work is quite unlike any other piano concerto in the repertoire, and it is true to say that by generally avoiding virtuosity per se, and shunning the more conventional sense of opposition between solo and accompanying, it is somewhat different at least. The opening movement – designated a Scherzo, no doubt because of its triple metre – has something of an ‘Olde English’ feel, both in terms of rhythm, melody and harmony. This continues as the music shifts to duple time and back, with a resounding close in G major, or rather G Mixolydian, as jazz-players might more accurately describe it. The key centre of the slow movement moves to E, and in the opening piano gambit, Ravel’s modality can occasionally be heard lurking in the shadows. The almost spiritual character of the writing is interrupted by some powerful tone-clusters low down in the piano, before the movement closes in complete calm, the key-centre having slipped down further to C sharp. This, however, provides a seamless join for the closing Presto, once more centred on E, and with a return to the high-spirited dance-like writing of the opening, and cast loosely in Rondo design. There is also a greater use of syncopation and cross-rhythms, which adds to the excitement and onward momentum, despite a brief waltz-like interruption in triple time along the way. The movement ends on a real high with a kind of expansive chorale. Clock-watchers might notice that, while the duration is shown as 6:02 on the cover, it’s actually some two minutes longer in performance.

Although Rosner did not embrace or practise Jewish rituals, the numerology principles of the Kabbalah were one of the sources of inspiration for Gematria. There is an almost Copland-like emptiness from the trumpet at the start of the work, perhaps symbolically the sound of the shofar. Rosner creates sufficient variety and contrast throughout this single-movement work by using a sectional approach. The highly-evocative writing could equally stand as film or incidental music, such is the vividness of its effect and the orchestral colours and timbres he employs, right up to its highly-ethereal close.

Rosner also wrote a number of pieces encompassing the spirit of the Elizabethan period where his modal style proved particularly apposite. These have become some of his most popular works. His Six Pastoral Dances, Op. 40 – scored for woodwind quartet plus strings – provide a good example of this, while adding a few distinctly modern touches along the way. The set comprises: Intrada, Waltz, Pavana, Gigue, Sarabande, and Galliard and Reprise, where the longest is just less than four minutes, and the shortest approximately one minute. There are some occasional, though no doubt unintentional nods in the direction of Respighi’s Ancient Airs and Dances.

It is with the final work on the CD that we can really appreciate the unique power of Rosner’s writing. This is a substantial piece where the progressive evolution of his musical language finally becomes evident. From the Diaries of Adam Czerniaków, Op. 82 is scored for full orchestra and a narrator, who reads out harrowing extracts from the diaries of Czerniaków – chairman of the ‘Judenrat’, or Jewish local government in the Warsaw ghetto from 1939 until 1942. There is no singing, and the music is in one continuous movement. This result is at once both extremely compelling and yet eerily riveting, with American actor, screenwriter and film-director Peter Riegert delivering the text with exactly the right import and emphasis. There are no unnecessary histrionics needed here.
Philip R Buttall

Previous review: Rob Barnett



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

(short month)

Orphic Moments

Metamorphoses Books I & II


Donizetti - Le Convenienze ed Inconvenienze Teatrali

Chamber Symphonies 2 & 4

French Cello Concertos