Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

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

Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere

Special Offer
Complete Chopin
17 discs
Pre-order for £100


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

Works for Voice by György Kurtág


Best Seller

Symphony for solo piano

Chopin Piano Concerto No.1

Schubert Piano sonata

Schubert symphony No. 9

Katherine Watson (Sop)

From Severn to Somme

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Modest MUSSORGSKY (1839-1881)
Pictures from an Exhibition (1874) [33:01]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Miroirs (1904-1905) [27:43]
Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992)
Cantéyodjayâ (1949) [12:21]
Peter Donohoe (piano)
rec. 2018, Cedars Hall, Wells Cathedral School, Somerset, UK
Reviewed as a 24/96 download from
Pdf booklet included

I first encountered pianist Peter Donohoe in the Tchaikovsky concertos, recorded with Rudolf Barshai and the Bournemouth Symphony in 1987/88; those remain very competitive (EMI-Warner). However, it was his 1988 Proms account of the Busoni concerto, with the BBCSO under Sir Mark Elder, that really took my breath away (EMI-Warner). Indeed, in my recent review of the Kirill Gerstein/Sakari Oramo/Boston Symphony recording of that piece, I was pleased to confirm Donohoe’s barnstorming version is still out in front. Fast forward to 2013, and I much admired his Prokofiev sonatas, the first tranche of which which I made a Recording of the Month (Somm). Alas, his most recent album, the Shostakovich concertos with David Curtis and the Orchestra of the Swan, was a major disappointment (Signum). Then again, that was also due to lacklustre accompaniment and one rather dubious venue.

Donohoe can certainly hold his own in Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev, but he faces formidable competition in Mussorgsky. Most of the pianists I’ve heard treat Pictures like a scintillating showpiece, its vibrant colours and varied subjects a gift to exhibitionists of another sort. From the outset, though, it’s clear that Donohoe is not of their ilk, preferring instead to major in clarity and detail. Mike Hatch and James Waterhouse’s bright, clear recording is an asset in that respect, for it helps to bring the score’s inner workings into sharp relief. Happily, it’s forensic but not fatiguing, and there’s enough here to please those jaded by the work’s ubiquity. Most important, Donohoe treats Pictures like the solo piece it is, and doesn’t attempt to mimic the weight and scale of the subsequent orchestrations. Ravel’s in particular. That pays dividends in Mussorgsky’s more crystalline passages, but anyone expecting added thrill/heft in The Great Gate at Kiev may feel a tad underwhelmed.

Not a top-notch Pictures, but not a dud, either. In fact, one might want to play Miroirs first, if only to underline just how Ravelian Donohoe makes the Mussorgsky sound. A neat reversal, perhaps, given the Frenchman’s famous orchestration. One might reasonably expect this pianist to deliver alert, insightful readings of the five pieces that make up Miroirs, yet I found myself yearning for a bit more sparkle here. Again, these are decent performances, but for imagination and a sure sense of style Steven Osborne’s recording, part of a superbly recorded 2-CD set, is hard to beat (Hyperion CDA67731/2). As for Messiaen’s Cantéyodjayâ, based on Hindu rhythms, it needs to be more incisive - more idiomatic - than it is here. Indeed, one need only listen to Håkon Austbø, a specialist in this repertoire, to realise how this finely crafted piece should go (Naxos 8.554090).

Donohoe’s Mussorgsky has its moments, but his Ravel and Messiaen are unremarkable; fair to middling sound.

Dan Morgan

We are currently offering in excess of 52,619 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

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