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

John Knowles PAINE (1839-1906)
Romance, Op. 39 (pub.1883) [3:45]
Romance, Op. 12 (c.1868) [7:18]
Nocturne, Op. 45 (pub. 1889) [4:33]
Ten Sketches for the Piano, Op. 26 (1876) [18:37]
Prelude in F-sharp Minor, Op. 15, No. 2 [3:04]
A Christmas Gift, Op. 7 (1862) [2:07]
Funeral March in Memory of President Lincoln, Op. 9 (1865) [5:26]
Three Piano Pieces, Op. 41 (pub.1884) [5:36]
Four Characteristic Pieces, Op. 25 (pub. 1876) [14:10]
Christopher Atzinger (piano)
rec. 2017, Urness Recital Hall, St Olaf College, Northfield
DELOS DE3551 [65:18]

Now that John Knowles Paine’s First Symphony has been recorded by Naxos let’s hope that the shackles of the ‘the Father of the Boston Six’ might loosen somewhat to admit a greater breadth of his compositions to disc. Seeing him as an august pillar of the establishment is never guaranteed to result in a flood of discs – see the worthwhile but patchy attention paid, for example, to Knowles’ fellow ‘Bostonian’, Horatio Parker.

Paine’s piano music hasn’t really been explored in much depth. There’s a recording of In the Country that omits four of the ten ‘sketches’, for example, something that stimulates curiosity that is ultimately dashed by incompleteness. So all thanks are due to Christopher Atzinger for getting to grips with a body of Paine’s piano repertoire. It shows Paine’s rootedness in the German romantic literature of his time; the Romance, Op.39 is both gentle and contrastingly rapid, the much earlier Romance Op.12 being a more Sturm und Drang affair, afflicted with nervous intensity, its stalking figures and March themes neatly meeting a B section full of insouciant, carefree elegance. To show that he could absorb other influences, the Nocturne offers limpid Chopinesque attractiveness. If there is too much of the ‘prentice about the Bach infiltrations of the Prelude in F sharp minor, it does offer one of Paine’s most appealing qualities in his solo piano music which is a strong quotient of untroubled lyricism. A Christmas Gift and the funeral music he dedicated to the memory of Lincoln reveal the Janus face of the American Civil War pieces; the former, from 1862, is wholly untroubled, the latter necessarily grieving, patterned after the relevant sonata movement in Chopin.

However, the main focus falls not on these somewhat occasional or stylised pieces but on the ‘MacDowell’ element in Paine’s piano writing, his powers of descriptiveness and characterisation. This can be found best in the ‘ten sketches for the piano’ In the Country, written in 1876. This cycle includes sparkling birdsong, Schumannesque refinement, pert dances, genteel rainfall, quiet tristesse - Elysian miniatures cast in a prelapsarian idyll. The Four Characteristic Pieces amplify the dance and bucolic elements at work in Paine’s portraiture but add a further influence, the tangible one of Brahms in the Impromptu. The more clotted nature of this piece – in effect a kind of homage, even if not thus stated – might also suggest the knottier textual and harmonic roads largely unexplored in his piano writing. The Three Piano Pieces, Op.41 offers a jolly triptych, the finale of which – a Fuga Giocosa – is based on a baseball song called ‘Over the fence is out, boys’, cleverly embraced by a Bachian fugue. The result is clever as well as witty.

Atzinger locates the essentially relaxed and good humoured element in Paine’s writing and he has been attractively recorded. Lindsay Koob wrote the thoughtful and engaging booklet essay.

Jonathan Woolf

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month


From Ocean’s Floor


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience


Symphonies 1, 2, 3