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

 57,903 reviews
   and more ... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here
Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
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

All HDTT reviews

Clarissa Bevilacqua plays
Augusta Read Thomas

all Nimbus reviews

Brahms Dvorak
Brahms 2 Dvorak 7
all tudor 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
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   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


Support us financially by purchasing
this through MusicWeb
for £13.50 postage paid world-wide.

Support us financially by purchasing
this through MusicWeb
for £13.50 postage paid world-wide.

Émile Pierre RATEZ (1851-1934)
Chamber Music – Volume 1
Dans la Foret op.5 [4:58]
Douze Pieces Pittoresque op.8 [28:13]
Souvenir du Village op.9 [5:13]
Deux Pieces op.38 [7:02]
Sonate pour Alto and Piano op.48 [16:23]
Marcin Murawski (viola)
Hanna Holeska (piano)
rec. December 2015, April 2016, I.J. Paderewski Acadamy of Music, Poznan, Poland

Chamber Music – Volume 2
Sonate for piano and alto op.18 [12:50]
Caprice-Valse – duo for flute, alto and piano op.13 [3’24]
Deux pieces for flute and piano op.42 [6’12]
Intermezzo for flute and piano op.50 [3:11] Sonatine for flute and piano op.61 [7:58] L’Aegipan for piano op.72 [4:21]
Fantaise iberique for alto and piano op.51 [8:45]
Japonerie for alto and piano op.57 [10:56] Piece Romatique for alto and piano op.70 [4:41]
Ewa Murawska (flute)
Marcin Murawski (viola)
Hanna Holeska (piano)
rec. June 2016, I.J. Paderewski Academy of Music, Poznan, Poland.

Unusually, I began to listen to this CD before reading the booklet notes about the composer. It was not long before I began to think that the spirit of Saint-Saens was hovering over the music. In fact, I was not far off the mark, because Ratez was a pupil of Massenet. He spent the last 43 years of his life as director of the Lille Conservatoire and before that he was a violist in The Opera Comique.

His dates suggest that he might have come under some influences from Debussy or Ravel, but if he did so in later life, it is not evident here. In fact he spent the last 43 years of his life as head of the Conservatoire in provincial Lille, on the border with Belgium, and so he might have managed to avoid the modernistic goings on in Paris.

The first work on Volume 1 is the 5 minute ‘Dans la Foret’ Op.5, a charming, memorable piece which the violist has transcribed from its original format for English Horn or oboe. I don’t know whether the difficulties presented in doing this have resulted in the balance between the instruments being a little odd during the first minute or so; perhaps it is just the viola playing quietly but it is sometimes almost covered by the piano. However, this peculiarity vanishes abruptly at 1’10” in.

The second work on the disc is the 28 minute long ‘Douze Pieces Pittoresque’ op.8 – its twelve pieces last between 1 minute and 5 minutes. They flow easily by, grateful on the ear, some having more-or-less picturesque titles such as ‘Le Coeur de Poete’ or ‘Joyeux Retour’, and as the booklet note says, they make a welcome expansion of the 19th century viola repertoire.

The principal other work present is the more formally titled ‘Sonate pour Alto and Piano and' op.48. The notes claim that in composing it, Ratez was joining with other composers – Bowen, Reger, Enescu and others, who were exploiting the capabilities of the viola. As a player in a professional orchestra for many years, one would expect Ratez to know the instrument well, and so it proves, for in this piece all the registers of the instrument are fully exploited. Do not expect to hear any influences of Reger, though!

Some of the music on Volume 2 bears higher opus numbers than works on Volume 1 do, and so I wondered whether Ratez’ style might have undergone a degree of modernization, given the presence on the compositional stage of such giants as Debussy and Ravel. But no, the works presented here show an easy fluidity so typical of the lighter works of Massenet and Saint-Saens. Of course, we are not given any excerpts from his operas or ballets, so making a fully considered statement is not really possible, but I suspect that his training at Massenet’s hands and subsequent professional life as a violist in the Opera Comique followed by 43 years at the head of the Lille Conservatoire, resulted in an ingrained musical conservatism that felt neither inclination nor need to branch out.

The work with the most intriguing title is his op.72 L’Aegipan, which, as we all know, is a mythological goat-legged faun. It is the only work for solo piano on the disc and supposedly represents the creature prancing through a forest, pausing thoughtfully now and then, before resuming his wandering. At 4’20: it is a typical genre piece.

It is followed by, for me, the most memorable piece on the disc, the ‘Fantaisie Iberique for Alto and Piano’ which in its nine minutes manages to incorporate Spanish rhythms and hazy languor. Another work in which Ratez takes us to exotic lands is the 10’56: ‘Japonerie for Alto and Piano’, but I have to say that it is pseudo-Japanese froth seen through conservative European eyes – in fact I would never have guessed that it was in any way supposed to represent Japan.

The principal other works present are the more formally titled ‘Sonate for Piano and Alto' op.18 and ‘Sonatine for Flute and Piano' op.61. The latter is a true ‘small sonata' lasting as it does a mere 7’58: and once again demonstrates its composer's ability to write fluently in a relatively light style.

On the evidence of this discs, there is little doubt that Ratez’ muse was not one that inspired cerebral or adventurous composition, but, as I said in my review of the first CD, everything on this disc is attractive music to listen to, and demonstrates the not-to-be-sniffed-at characteristic of grateful, sometimes quite memorable melody.

These world premiere recordings are good, with well balanced instruments in a natural acoustic. To my ears, though, in the viola sonata, the instrument sounds rather bright, almost harsh when playing in its higher registers. This is not, perhaps, quite so noticeable in the other pieces where the viola appears, and is not noticeable at all in the lower reaches of the instrument, where the familiar dusky tone is apparent. The booklets are of splendid quality with full composer, artist and work information.

Jim Westhead



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

all cpo reviews

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

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

November 2022
Bach Orchestral Suites

del Cinque
Del Cinque Cello sonatas

Fujita Mozart
Mao Fujita Mozart

Stanczyk Acousmatic Music


October 2022

Berg Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto Elmes

DEbussy Jeux
Debussy Jeux

Romantic pioano masters
Romantic Piano Masters

The future is female - Vol 2
Volume 2 - The Dance

impromptu harp music
Complete Harp Impromptus