One of the most grown-up review sites around

52,000 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 Préalable again!
£11 post-free

we also sell Skarbo

and Oboe Classics


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

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

WYASTONE releases

The Birth of Rhapsody in Blue
A superlative recreation

such a success

An outstanding performance

make acquaintance without delay

Violin Concerto
This is an impressive disc

Strong advocacy
for a British composer

Piano Music - Martin Jones
agreeably crafted

Piano Music 5CDs

Consistently fine

Rare and interesting repertoire

An excellent introduction

A Celebration on Record

An issue of importance

A splendid disc

both enlightening and rewarding
additional review


Support us financially by purchasing this from

Alexander Brailowsky (piano)
The Berlin Recordings
rec. 1928-1934
DANACORD DACOCD336-339 [4 CDs: 267:47]

This is not the first time these recordings have made it to CD. They were previously issued in two volumes by Danacord several years ago. Now these have been combined and released as a 4 CD set with the original liner notes by Niels Birger Wamberg. Although Brailowsky had set down twenty or so inscriptions for the Ampico Reproducing Pianos Company between 1925 and 1930, these Berlin sides are his first audio recordings issued on 78 rpm discs. They were made between 1928 and 1934 by the German gramophone company Polydor. The original matrices were destroyed during the war, so excellent quality commercial 78 rpm pressings have been used in new digital transfers. As a point of interest, the pianist later went on to record for HMV in London in the late 1930s then for RCA and later CBS in the 1960s. This Berlin cache have been praised for their high technical quality, conveying the rich tone and myriad tonal palette of this 'Keyboard Giant'.

Alexander Brailowsky (1896–1976) was born in Kiev and attended the Conservatory there, graduating with a gold medal in 1911. His teachers included Theodor Leschetizky in Vienna, Ferruccio Busoni in Zürich, and Francis Planté in Paris. He adopted French citizenship in 1926.  A leading concert pianist in the years between the two World Wars, he made a speciality of the works of Frédéric Chopin.

The lion's share of the set, two discs in total, is devoted to Chopin, with the third featuring music by Liszt and the fourth a motley collection of virtuoso works, several of which are transcriptions by the likes of Liszt, Leschetizky and Tausig. CD 1 opens with Chopin's Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor. The orchestra are the august body of the Berlin Philharmonic, no less, under Julius Prüwer (1874-1943). Eschewing all vestiges of sentimentality, the reading is one of muscularity and strength, with a strong rhythmic pulse in the outer movements. The first movement's opening tutti is substantially cut. The piano is nicely profiled in the balance, allowing the listener to fully savour the wonderful pianism. Brailowsky's sensitive pedalling facilitates clarity of tone. I did detect some very slight desynchronization of hands in the more lyrical moments. In the slow movement, the seamless melodic line is poetically embroidered and rubato is subtle and never overdone. The finale is fleet and airy.

Brailowsky held the distinction of being the first pianist to programme the complete piano works of Chopin over six recitals in New York, Brussels, Zürich, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Paris. The discs present an excellent cross-section of the different genres the composer worked in, and the pieces showcase the brilliant virtuosity the pianist possessed. Take the Presto finale of the Second Sonata, played at breakneck speed, yet flawless in its accuracy. The Barcarolle has an aristocratic nobility, whilst the Ballade No.1 evinces a boundless range of expression. The Waltz in A flat major, Op.34, No.1 has to be one of the finest I've heard, with the decorative scale runs high-powered and dazzling. The Waltz in C sharp minor, Op.64, however, is pulled around too much with an overdone rubato. The Fantasie-Impromptu has an appealing middle section, which is exquisitely contoured. In the A flat Étude Op. 25, No.1 the melody sings out with pristine clarity over the arpeggiated accompaniment. The performance of No.2 of the same set is one of the fastest I've heard, whilst No.9 in G flat has a cheery rhythmic buoyancy.

The opening movement of the Liszt Concerto is heavy laden and I could have done with a little more lightness and forward movement. However, these more desirable qualities are writ large in the finale which is quite thrilling. In the ubiquitous Hungarian Rhapsody No.2, Brailowsky works in some magical colouring, and Gnomenreigen delicately sparkles with elfin charm. The performance of Liszt's transcription of Wagner's Tannhäuser Overture must be one of the highlights of the set for its breadth of vision and sheer audacity. I'm also enamoured by the Schubert/Liszt Morgenständchen, ravishingly played and emitting some radiant hues. Mendelssohn's Spinnerlied doesn't work for me, Brailowsky's performance seems prosaic and earthbound, yet Schumann's Traumeswirren is dashed off with vitality and panache. In Scriabin's Étude in D sharp minor Op.8, No.12, the pianist certainly gives Horowitz a run for his money.

These new 2019 digital transfers come courtesy of Claus Byrith who has done a sterling job in breathing new life into these valuable audio documents. They emerge with freshness and vitality. The excellent accompanying documentation, which runs to 19 pages, in English only, places the pianist in an historical context. This is a superb release that connoisseurs of great pianism will not want to miss.

Stephen Greenbank

CD 1 [70:55]
Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)
Piano Concerto No.1 E minor, Op.11
[ 1 ] Allegro Maestoso 16:26
[ 2 ] Romance. Larghetto 9:55
[ 3 ] Rondo. Vivace 9:38
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Julius Prüwer, conductor
Sonata No.2 B flat minor, Op.35
[ 4 ] Grave - Doppio movimento 14:50
[ 5 ] Scherzo 4:51
[ 6 ] Marche funébre - Lento. Presto 8:45
[ 7 ] Barcarolle F sharp minor, Op. 60 8:23
[ 8 ] Ballade No. 1 G minor, Op. 23 7:36

CD 2 [64:21]
[ 1 ] Mazurka B flat Major, Op.7,1 2:34
[ 2 ] Nocturne E flat major, Op.9,2 4:28
[ 3 ] Prélude B minor, Op.28,6 & G Major, Op. 28,3 2:41
[ 4 ] Prélude D flat major, Op.28,15 4:17
[ 5 ] Waltz A flat Major, Op.34,10 4:40
[ 6 ] Waltz C sharp minor, Op.64,2 3:28
[ 7 ] Waltz A flat Major, Op.69,1 3:27
[ 8 ] Waltz E minor, Op. posth. 2:21
[ 9 ] Impromptu A flat Major, Op.29 4:13
[10] Fantaisie-Impromptu C sharp minor, Op.66 4:47
[11] E Major, Op.10,3 3:53
[12] C sharp minor, Op.10,4 2:09
[13] G flat Major, Op.10,5 1:35
[14] A flat Major, Op.25,1 2:11
[15] F minor, Op.25,2 1:21
[16] F Major, Op.25,3 1:48
[17] G flat Major, Op.25,9 0:59
[18] A minor, Op.25,11 3:23
[19] C minor, Op.25,12 2:10
[20] Polonaise A flat major, Op.53 6:14

CD 3 [56:32]
Franz Liszt (1811-1886)
Piano Concerto No.1 E flat Major (1849)
[ 1 ] Allegro maestoso 5:52
[ 2 ] Quasi adagio - Allegretto vivace - Allegretto animato 4:44
[ 3 ] Allegro marziale e animato - Presto 8:36
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
Julius Prüwer, conductor
[ 4 ] Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 C sharp minor 8:56
[ 5 ] Hungarian Rhapsody No.6 D flat Major 6:36
[ 6 ] Hungarian Rhapsody No.12 C sharp minor 8:56
[ 7 ] Valse impromptu (1842/52) 4:38
[ 8 ] Gnomenreigen (Etude de concert No. 2) 2:59
[ 9 ] Liebestraum No. 3 A flat Major 4:28

CD 4 [75:59]
Richard Wagner/Liszt:
[ 1 ] Tannhäuser Overture 13:57
[ 2 ] Spinnerlied (from Fliegende Holländer) 5:53
Franz Schubert/Liszt:
[ 3 ] Morgenständchen 3:02
[ 4 ] Moment Musicale, Op.94,3 10:42
[ 5 ] Marche Militaire, Op.51 4:50
[ 6 ] Pastorale-Capriccio 4:12
Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
[ 7 ] Spinnerlied C Major, Op.67,4 1:41
[ 8 ] Scherzo, Op.16,2 2:17
Robert Schumann (1810 -1856)
[ 9 ] Traumeswirren, Op.12,7 2:36
[10] Intermezzo from Faschingsschwank, Op.26 2:14
Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826)
[11] Rondo - perpetuum mobile, Op.24,4 3:54
Claude Debussy (1862-1918)
[12] Serenade For The Doll from Children's Corner 2:40
[13] Toccata from Pour le Piano 3:28
Alexander Scriabin (1872-1915)
[14] Prelude C sharp minor, Op.11,10 1:26
[15] Etude D sharp minor, Op.8,12 2:03
Manuel de Falla (1876-1946)
[16] Danse Rituelle from El amor brujo 3:56



We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 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

a vibrant slice of life

stylistically assured

About Every Hill and Valley
Swedish Songs

Hallberg and Dente
interesting and most welcome

An inspired partnership
additional review

A valuable document

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