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
  • Brahms Symphony 4 Dvorak Symphony 9
  • Peter Aronsky (piano) Les Délices du Piano
  • IL Carnevale di Venezia Clarinet with orchestra
  • Sinfonie Concertanti
  • IL Carnevale di Venezia Clarinet with orchestra
  • Peter Aronsky (piano) Les Délices du Piano

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


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Alexandre TANSMAN (1897-1986)
Piano Music - Volume 2
Eight Novelettes (1936) [24:24]
Three Preludes, en forme de blues (1937) [8:58]
20 pièces faciles sur des mèlodies populaires poloniases (1917-24) [14:18]
Suite in the Old Style (1929) [14:20]
Danny Zelibor (piano)
rec. 2015, Winspear Performance Hall, Denton, Texas
TOCCATA TOCC0265 [60:00]

The second volume in Toccata’s series devoted to Tansman’s piano music uncovers two premiere recordings. All the music comes from the two-decade period between 1917 and 1937, much of it reflecting the stylistic zeitgeist. Of the two premières, the more expansive is the sequence of Novelletes composed in 1936 (the Vingt Pièces is the other premiere). Danny Zelibor, an authoritative exponent of this repertoire, proves an equally perceptive booklet guide, correctly characterising the first of the sequence as ‘hazy’ – indeed it’s a little impressionistic, though it’s soon followed by a fast-fingered Etude scherzo and Javanese gamelan evocations with atmospheric drones and flutes. Never content with meeting expectations Tansman then draws on a Hungarian dance, and then on his own native Obertas, a polonaise, before segueing into the blues – though in this case it’s more a Slow Drag than anything more Down Home. The first part of the Prelude and Fugue is rather Satie-like which is not perhaps surprising given his long residence in Paris whilst the most intriguing of the set is the last, a chromatic and harmonically uneasy Improvisation.

The Trois Preludes, en forme de blues date from the following year and evoke a cocktail kind of Jazz, a kind of Lingua Franca that had been sweeping Europe since Jim Europe et al. The Vingt pièces faciles are not children’s pieces, though Tansman was more than adept at writing for children. Instead they offer brief charm – of the 20 only three breach the minute mark. Dedicated to Paderewski, these Polish dance pieces are appealing examples of Tansman’s powers of genial compression. Perhaps the most striking is No.16, a sensitive and thoughtful Moderato, but you’ll find examples of the polka, and oberek amongst others.

The Suite in the Old Style of 1929 also deals in dance patterns, this time Baroque-patterned ones. The opening is almost comically double-dotted whereas the Sarabande mines a strongly melancholic route – there is even, to my ears, something filmic about the writing here. There’s a most appealing Choral fugue, initially noble then incrementally declamatory. Jazzy elements iniltrate the Toccata where one can perhaps feel the influence of Prokofiev.

For the Tansman collector this first-ever survey of the complete piano music offers much rewarding listening. The level of invention is variable, but the generous affability and rhythmic vivacity of the music is never in doubt. Nor are the excellent performances.

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