One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,196 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

Chopin Edition 17CDs
now available separately
£11 post-free anywhere


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

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

Béla BARTÓK (1881-1945)
Two Romanian Dances [8:39]
Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs [11:10]
Out of Doors [15:29]
Fourteen Bagatelles [24:01]
Florent Boffard (piano)
rec. 2018, MC2, Grenoble, France
MIRARE MIR410 [59:00]

French pianist Florent Boffard is a considerable specialist in the key 20th century modernists and contemporary music. He has played Boulez and Ligeti premieres. On disc he is most familiar to many in Bartók, not least for partnering Isabelle Faust in her outstanding discs of his violin music. Here we have a very satisfying programme of some of the most significant solo piano works of the Hungarian master. It has but one flaw, and it will be as well get it out of the way. There is a large number of short piano pieces by the composer, so the miserly collector will note that the playing time of just under an hour might have been a bit more generous. That complaint has to be mitigated though by the observation that everything we have here is superbly played. If the disc lacks a little in quantity, it lacks nothing in quality.

The Two Romanian Dances make a more substantial opening than their title suggests. They are based on ‘invented’ folksongs (a necessary oxymoron in writings about Bartók, it seems), deriving their driven percussive manner from the rhythms of the real thing Bartók had collected. They are exuberantly played, and launch the recital almost with a sense of fanfare – welcome to the three worlds of Béla Bartók, folksong collector, composer and pianist.

Bartók distinguished between the types of folksong he found in Eastern Europe, and the Romanian Dances (or their models) exemplify more the straightforward ‘tempo giusto’ songs. The Improvisations on Hungarian Peasant Songs incline more to the declamatory, recitative-like type he called ‘parlando rubato’. Boffant is a master of the manner, of piano playing as story-telling, drawing us in to this world of real folk songs, which are usually heard in this work in their entirety, but wreathed in composed (hardly ‘improvised’) settings and elaborations that somehow reveal their essence.

Out of Doors is from 1926, the key year of Bartók’s compositional career. It is one of his great masterpieces in any genre, not least its highly original ‘Night Music’, the fourth of the suite’s five movements and a frequent item in his own recitals. The nocturnal manner was a central aspect of Bartók’s work, reflecting his love of nature and the creatures that inhabit the night-time. The pianissimo cluster-chords, the chirrup of the three-note grupetti, and the crepuscular atmosphere are all superbly delineated by Boffard, who plays with great concentration and super-sensitive refinement. The magnificent playing of that early harbinger of the mature manner, the Fourteen Bagatelles, sets the seal on a superb recital disc.

The sound is warm and satisfying, the bite of the harmony always present without becoming too aggressive, and the piano sound in the more percussive sections never hardens into the brittle clangour of some older recordings of this music. There is a short but helpful booklet note on the music itself. This is an outstanding Bartók recital, an ideal starting point for anyone new to this repertoire, and quite possibly the best playing of this music on disc since the great intégrale of Zoltán Kocsis (Philips, 2013) – still the best bargain set of 20th century piano music. Even if you own that, you will not regret acquiring this disc also.

Roy Westbrook

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month


Aho Symphony 5

Dowland - A Fancy


Rachmaninov_ Babayan


Opera transcriptions & fantasias


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

Schubert Symphony 9


Jean-Baptiste LEMOYNE

Enescu Ravel Britten

Debussy Images etc.

53 Studies on Chopin Études 1
Konstantin Scherbakov (piano)