One of the most grown-up review sites around

51,000 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


colourful imaginative harmony
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Leticia Gómez-Tagle
Chopin, Liszt, Scarlatti

Bax Piano Music

Guillaume LEKEU

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Acte Prealable returns
with New Releases

Superior performance

Shostakovich 6&7 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem Thielemann

Marianna Henriksson
An outstanding recital

Arnold Bax
Be converted

this terrific disc

John Buckley
one of my major discoveries

François-Xavier Roth
A game-changing Mahler 3


Bryden Thomson


Vaughan Williams Concertos

RVW Orchestral


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Piano Quintet Op.34 (1863) [42:27]
CÚsar FRANCK (1822-1890)
Piano Quintet in F minor (1879) [36:40]
Sviatoslav Richter (piano)
Borodin Quartet
Bolshoi Theatre Quartet
rec. USSR, 1958/66, ADD
ALTO ALC1361 [79:16]

Decked out with fresh liner-notes by James Murray, we can welcome, without significant reserve, these two classics from the late 1950s and mid 1960s. I say 'significant' because some slight allowance must be made for the vanishingly slight audio depredations of six decades. The Franck has a degree more "rawness" than the Brahms. The sources for these two burly late romantic quintets are nicely cleaned up versions of LPs from Saga (5448 - which boasted "electronic stereo”) and Melodiya/Monitor. The sound is as passionate and as burred as the interpretations of these two late-Romantic piano quintets. These are tense, unwaveringly insistent and concentrated yet honour the interplay of emotional triumphant spasm and sidling calm.

In the Brahms you can hear the passionate hurly-burly in the first movement and gain an appreciation of the musicians' subtle engagement with suggestion rather than overt statements in the opening measures of the finale. In the three-movement Franck Quintet Richter and the quartet are marginally more distantly placed than in the Brahms. Also, the surfaces are noisier, though not unduly so. Is it an illusion but do the quartet's impassioned statements in the first of the three movements sound like Shostakovich's writing for orchestral strings? The spectral playing at the start of the last of the three movements buzzes with an entirely Soviet violence and this is all the more effective because of the tolled-out piano writing at the start of the middle Lento. This quality contrasts with much gentle writing. In both cases we hear much playing that is red in tooth and claw. That the booklet carries the legend "Legendary Performances" raises expectations and the recordings and interpretations deliver on these.

The two string quartets are not equally well known. Yes, we know that the then Borodin comprised Rostislav Dubinsky (violin I), Yaroslav Alexandrov (violin II), Dmitri Shebalin (viola) (presumably related to Vissarion Shebalin, a composer of note) and Valentin Berlinsky (cello). The Bolshoi Theatre Quartet line-up was, in this case, Isaak Zhuk (violin I), Boris Weltman (violin II), Moris Gurvich (viola) and Isaac Buravski (cello). I make pains to set out the personnel; because these performances are as much about writing for the quartet members as they are about Richter.

Rob Barnett


We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 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
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
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger