One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,514 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for


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

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

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


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Joachim MENDELSON (1892-1943)
Symphony No. 2 (1939) [20:50]
Quintet for oboe, violin, viola, cello, and piano (1939) [16:24]
Sonata for violin and piano (1937) [13:52]
Chamber Symphony (1938) [15:50]
Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra/Jürgen Bruns
Tatiana Blome (piano), Ulrike Petersen (violin), Claudio Corbach (cello), Ignacy Miecznikowski (viola), Frédéric Tardy (oboe)
rec. 2010/11, Lutosławski Concert Studio, Polish Radio, Warsaw; Radio Berlin Brandenburg RBB, Berlin
EDA 040 [67:16]

The Polish composer Joachim Mendelson spent time in Paris between the two World Wars, returning to Warsaw in 1935 to teach. In 1943 - this according to Frank Harders-Wuthenow's booklet note - he was killed in the Warsaw Ghetto, and "all his personal documents and manuscripts were lost." Only those of his works published in Paris -- the four scores presented here, plus a string quartet available on EDA 034 -- have survived. The dates in the headnote, again as per the booklet, represent the dates of publication.

Among the present program in mixed genres, the Chamber Symphony proves the most substantial piece. Indeed, I'm not sure what the composer considered "chamber" about it: the musical gestures are big, as is the scoring, with its ominous brass reinforcements. The aspirational first movement presages the American postwar symphonists, contrasting aggressive passages with broader, more lyrical writing. The Larghetto begins with a searching English horn solo, on which flute and clarinet comment with unstable flourishes; the strings' answering paragraph brings stillness, along with more flourishes. This score, like the others here, has no formal scherzo, but the finale's scherzando main theme serves a similar function; some vaguely Expressionist turns colour the harmony.

The other works on the program -- each, like the Chamber Symphony, in three movements -- take in all manner of influences. The opening of the Second Symphony throws at us, in short order, an angular, disturbed theme; harsh "modern" brass outbursts; and passing bits of surprising lushness, all set again a comparatively sparse second theme. The finale suggests funhouse-mirror Mozart with lighter moments. The music sounds like nothing you've heard before, precisely because it sounds like everything you've heard before.

Amazingly, the effect isn't jumbled: somehow, the progression of episodes makes internal sense. In the principal Allegros, propelled by irregular motor rhythms, the second theme is always clearly intelligible as such, though it's less easy to pinpoint the boundaries of the development. In each movement of the symphony, a well-wrought, light-textured passage for winds provides an expressive contrast. A peculiar stylistic tic is the avoidance of explicitly tonal resolution: rhythmic and harmonic direction, rather than emphatic unisons, provide finality at cadences.

Mendelson's eclecticism plays particularly well in the "piano quintet." Its nonstandard instrumental complement allows for a variety of concertante oppositions, juxtaposing the piano against the strings, the strings against the oboe, or the oboe against everyone else. Purely orchestral effects, like oboe-over-pizzicato-strings, also come into play. The piano variously furnishes the music's underlying momentum, or suggests grand Romantic surges (it does similar things in the Violin Sonata). Beautiful, broad-limbed melodies, in one instrument after another, form the heart of the central Molto lento espressivo. In the finale, the piano's ostinato chords yield to a skipping oboe figure; later, violinist Ulrike Petersen contributes gentle, sparkling high phrases.

The performances are expert, and the sound is excellent. I rather enjoyed this. You might, too.

Stephen Francis Vasta
Stephen Francis Vasta is Principal Conductor of Lighthouse Opera in New York (

Previous review: Rob Barnett


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month



From Ocean’s Floor


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience