One of the most grown-up review sites around

52,670 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

£11 post-free anywhere

Special Offer
Complete Chopin
17 discs
Pre-order for £100


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

Works for Voice by György Kurtág


Best Seller

Cyril Scott piano music

Hahn Complete Songs

Piano Sonatas 6,7,8 Osborne

Symphony for solo piano

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Henk BADINGS (1907-87)
Symphony No 4 (1943) [35:40]
Symphony No 5 (1949) [25:45]
Bochumer Symphoniker/David Porcelijn
Recorded in RuhrCongress, Bochum August 27-31, 2012
CPO 777 669-2 [61:31]

I don't remember ever hearing any music by Henk Badings but I do recall reading Alan Ridout's book A Composer's Life in which he says that he learned more from Badings than from his various other teachers and that he thought highly of his music. A major reason for Badings' neglect is his alleged compliance with the Nazis and their Kulturkammer during the German occupation, but after being ostracised from the professional music scene he was reinstated in 1947. He was virtually self-taught as a composer, though he did receive advice from Willem Pijper, the leading Dutch composer at that time. This amounted to “give up ...”. Badings also worked extensively in the area of electronic music and with microtonality – reflecting his Indonesian upbringing (he was born in Java). A Badings Festival was held in Rotterdam in 2007 but his name is surprisingly absent from numerous books on the symphony. Some comments apropos these symphonies have alluded to film music, but I am never quite sure what this is intended to mean – vividness, immediacy? If so, that's fine by me, as long as it's not Hollywood schmaltz. In any case, Bading does not sound any less symphonic.

Traditional in form and tonal language, the Fourth Symphony is a very communicative, accessible piece and for this Badings was taken to task by a well-known critic. How this accessibility compares with Badings' other 1,000+ pieces I cannot say, but this music does impress me with its honesty. The slow introduction, immediately engaging with its gravitas and expectancy, leads to an Allegro beginning with a very Hindemithian theme. One really impressive aspect of Badings' writing is his masterful orchestration – especially his extrovert writing for brass – through which his attractive ideas are presented with satisfying clarity and effectiveness. There are moments when I feel the invention flags, or when there is a dangerous flirtation with banality, but these are very few. A biting scherzo follows, with a lyrical trio and a fugal passage incorporated into the scherzo reprise. The slow movement (Largo e mesto) is deeply expressive without being indulgent and again occasionally reminiscent of Hindemith, though only momentarily. An incisive finale concludes the work, though this incorporates a broad theme introduced by the strings and a reminiscence of material from the second movement.

Listening to the Fifth Symphony, I am left wondering why the accessibility of its predecessor seemed to stand out, because that quality is no less obvious here. According to the composer, all the principal motifs of the symphony are contained within the introduction. This slow introductory section leads to an Allegro launched by a strongly rhythmic, syncopated idea. There is some anger here, I feel. After the first movement has ended quietly the scherzo imposes itself with – again - a well-defined rhythmic character. In the middle of this movement I was prompted to think of Malcolm Arnold and there is certainly a comparable directness about Badings' music generally. The Largo is yearning, reflective and dignified, whereas the finale is one instance where I find the actual substance less inspired and definitely slighter than the means of expressing it – that is, the striking orchestration and what one might the embellishment or “clothing”.

The German-based company CPO is some way (eight of the fifteen symphonies) into recording all of Badings' orchestral music. Without citing national stereotypes, I can say that this music was not what I expected. It also may well surprise many other listeners too. Having played this CD at least five times, I am very glad to have heard some Badings after such a long interval, especially in these generally good performances. Unless you are exclusively interested in tough, challenging modern music, I would recommend this CD.

Philip Borg-Wheeler



We are currently offering in excess of 52,619 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

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