One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

16th-19th November

Shostakovich 4, 11 Nelsons
Transparent Granite!

Nothing but Praise

BrucKner 4 Nelsons
the finest of recent years.

superb BD-A sound

This is a wonderful set

Telemann continues to amaze

A superb disc

Performances to cherish

An extraordinary disc.

rush out and buy this

I favour above all the others

Frank Martin - Exemplary accounts

Asrael Symphony
A major addition

Another Bacewicz winner

match any I’ve heard

An outstanding centenary collection

personable, tuneful, approachable

a very fine Brahms symphony cycle.

music that will be new to most people

telling, tough, thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded

hitherto unrecorded Latvian music


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers


Pierre Monteux - Tanglewood Volume 2: 1959
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
Symphony No. 4 in A major, Op 90 (‘Italian’) (1833) [28:03]
Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor, Op 25 (1831) [18:58]
Robert SCHUMANN (1819-1856)
Manfred Overture (1852) [12:33]
Introduction and Allegro Appassionato (1849) [16:21]
Rudolf Serkin (piano)
Boston Symphony Orchestra
rec. 1 August, 1959, Tanglewood

This isn’t the first time that this Tanglewood concert has appeared. Back in 2012 it turned up in a large West Hill Radio Archives box devoted to Monteux’s Boston performances that was favourably reviewed here by John Quinn (review), an excerpted paragraph of whose text forms part of the documentation for this Pristine Audio release. What is missing from this latest transfer, for reasons of space, is the Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan, though Pristine hopes that it will appear in a later volume in this mini-series. It’s available in that WHRA box.

Monteux was an erratic Mendelssohnian. The Fourth Symphony saw him at his most quixotic, and an earlier preserved example of his way with the Fourth Symphony saw me spitting feathers in a previous review of Sunday Evenings with Pierre Monteux (review) on Music and Arts. This 1959 example has a somewhat more temperate first movement but it is still bass-heavy and too fast, giving it a rather galumphing quality, that never settles. Whether Monteux was trying to inflate symphonic Mendelssohn to make a point or was subconsciously hustling through to keep up with the likes of Cantelli, is a debate that will lead nowhere. He does at least take the first movement repeat. Things stabilise thereafter – the third movement is definitely ‘con moto’ - but the sound is cool and a bit dry and doesn’t flatter in its lack of resonance. The Saltarello is, once again, big-boned.

For the First Piano Concerto he was joined by Rudolf Serkin, who improves as the work develops. Dropped notes in live concerts don’t especially concern me, though Serkin drops his fair share and sounds a little uncomfortable during the first movement, and neither man is given to rococo elements in this work. By the finale, however, things are motoring purposefully.

The remainder of the concert is devoted to Schumann. Serkin is on good form in the Introduction and Allegro Appassionato and in Manfred we hear Monteux approaching something like his best in this disc – power and sweep conveyed through a stern, propulsive sinewy reading.

That said, there are erratic and interpretatively individualistic elements aplenty in this disc. If you’ve not encountered it before it may be useful in drawing out the nature of Monteux’s affiliations – a stronger conductor in Schumann than Mendelssohn on this showing.

Jonathan Woolf



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

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