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

Yes we are selling
Acte Prealable again!

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

Vraiment magnifique!

Quite splendid

Winning performances

Mahler Symphony 8
a magnificent disc

a huge talent

A wonderful disc

Weinberg Symphonies 2 & 21
A handsome tribute!

Roth’s finest Mahler yet

Mahler 9 Blomstedt
Distinguished performance


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Heino ELLER (1887-1970)
Violin Concerto (1933-34 rev. 1937, 1964) [23:16]
Symphonic Legend (1923 rev. 1938) [23:54]
Fantasy in G Minor for violin and orchestra (1916 rev. 1964) [6:18]
Symphony No.2 (unfinished) (1947) [13:44]
Baiba Skride (violin)
Estonian National Symphony Orchestra/Olari Elts
rec. 2013-18, Estonia Concert Hall, Tallinn
ONDINE ODE1321-2 [67:43]

Heino Eller’s was the first Estonian Violin Concerto. Composed between 1933 and 1934, it was revised in 1937, slated for premiere in 1940 and then withdrawn, only to resurface in 1965 when it was played in Tallinn by Vladimir Alumäe and conducted by Neeme Järvi. A recording has survived of this performance and there is also a CD of Viktor Pikaizen playing it with Peeter Lilje. One difference between the archive copy, the commercial disc and this Ondine release is that nearly 200 bars snipped from the coda in 1965 have been restored, allowing us to hear the ‘real deal’ for the first time on disc.

If you’re unsure about Eller, be reassured. This Concerto is a generous and lyrical work that shoves aside the orchestral introduction as if it’s of no account and sends the soloist almost immediately into a compact cadenza. With skirling lyricism and vital electricity coursing throughout its veins, Eller gifts the soloists an unruffled and elegant line to spin. It’s also a warmly orchestrated piece and with a clever recapitulation it’s nicely structured too. The major cadenza occurs toward the end of the work, naturally, and there’s more than a hint of giocoso in the freewheeling bravado of the writing. Baiba Skride, always an unruffled player, and one never prone to false gestures, proves immaculate here and throughout and her partnership with Olari Elts and the Estonian National Symphony is just as impressive.

The Fantasy in G minor for violin and orchestra is an early work, composed in 1916 for violin and piano but orchestrated nearly half a century later. Its easygoing lyricism makes an immediate appeal.

The Symphonic Legend, which lasts as long as the Concerto, clocking in at just under 24 minutes, was premiered in 1923 and revised in 1938. Its gentle undulations powerfully suggest a mythic moonlit lakescape, and its narrative is ingeniously descriptive. This pastoral glitter and glimmer segue into a brief folk dance before Scriabinesque chromaticism infiltrates the scene. Some of the later reminiscences are torrid in their intensity – there is a dramatically pulsating waltz, for instance – and almost Korngoldian in richness. But aptly, and cyclically, the music finally dissolves into the stillness of the opening scene; was it all a dream?

In the face of repression Eller abandoned his 1947 Second Symphony after just one movement so that what remains is merely a 14-minute torso. Premiered in this form in 2012, it makes a pendant to this album but an intense one. Its opening Andante section with its quiet and refined material soon leads to a more athletic Allegro molto with a characteristically lyrical second subject. There is plenty of motor energy too as well as insouciant phrasing not a million miles away from a Walton-Shostakovich axis.

The studio engineer who oversaw that 1965 première of the Violin Concerto has said that it was ‘due to Eller that music in Estonia was able to achieve a cultural and professional dignity’. That engineer was Arvo Pärt, and this disc, beautifully played and recorded, splendidly documented, shows the profound truth of his statement.

Jonathan Woolf

Previous review: 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

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