MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing from

Richard DUBUGNON (b. 1968)
Chamber Symphony No 1, Op 63 (2013) [15:46]
Klavieriana for piano, orchestra and celesta obbligato, Op 70 (2015) [26:09]
Chamber Symphony No 2, Op 77 (2017) [21:26]
Noriko Ogawa (piano), Rafael Rütti (celesta)
Musikkcollegium Winterthur/Thomas Zehetmair
Rec. September 2019, Stadthaus, Winterthur, Switzerland
BIS BIS2229 SACD [64:18]

Richard Dubugnon is a Swiss composer long resident in France. He has been fairly widely performed but less recorded. The only previous work of his I have heard is Arcanes symphoniques, a set of attractive short orchestral pieces based on the trumps of the Tarot pack. His idiom could roughly be described as neo-Romantic: he looks back to the French tradition with impressionism and Messiaen, but he also has debts to the German one, particularly the late romantic idiom of early Schoenberg and Zemlinsky. He has a liking for literary and artistic subjects. All these qualities were evident in Arcanes symphoniques, as they are in this new disc also.

We begin with the first of his two Chamber Symphonies. The title is obviously a reference to the works of that name by Schoenberg and also by Franz Schreker, and there is something of the vitality and exuberance of Schoenberg’s work in Dubugnon’s. It is in a single movement, which begins arrestingly with fast motifs and plenty of colour. There are occasional moments of repose, and also solos for the cor anglais and cello. In the middle of the work, there is a cadenza for solo violin. The general construction is an expanded sonata form with two themes, one abrupt and nervous and the second more lyrical and in triple time. This is an attractive work.

Next on the disc comes Klavieriana, a three movement piano concerto. The title was suggested by Schumann’s Kreisleriana, itself inspired by Johannes Kreisler, a moody musician who appears in some of the stories of E. T. A. Hoffmann. However, the only link between Dubugnon’s work and Schumann’s that I can see is that they both employ a variety of piano techniques. The first movement is percussive, fast, noisy and occasionally rather sinister, like the Toccata of Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin, or the finale of Gershwin’s Piano Concerto. In the course of it the celesta becomes prominent and this will continue to the end of the concerto. The second movement is marked Sicilienne and is slow and romantic, with a suggestion of the slow movement of Ravel’s Piano Concerto. There is more interplay between the piano and the celesta here. There is then a cadenza for the piano which leads into the finale, which is lively, with dotted rhythms. Norika Ogawa’s fluent and expressive pianism is a pleasure to hear.

The second Chamber Symphony is longer than the first and is divided into four movements, of which the first is as long as the other three combined. It has a rather complicated background. It was written for the Musikkollegium Winterthur, who play it here. It was inspired by a stained-glass window at their office which represents King David playing the harp, as he does in the Bible. There is a reproduction of this on the cover of the booklet, a smart move by BIS. The music is based on a chaconne of sixteen chords, and the opening movement features a different solo instrument in each variation. Between some of these there is a quotation from the final chorus of Bach’s motet Singet dem Herrn ein neues Lied (BWV 225). This is all rather complicated and I find the effect episodic. The second movement is a fast fugue also drawing on the chaconne and ending with the Bach again. The third movement is actually titled Chaconne and has a solo for the violin and then the violin and piccolo play the Bach over the chaconne chords. The finale is lively with one more appearance of the Bach before a final rush to the end. This is more ambitious than the first Chamber Symphony and, to my ears, slightly less well integrated, despite the return of the chaconne material and the Bach quotations.

The performances under the violinist-turned-conductor Thomas Zehetmair seem thoroughly accomplished and idiomatic, and the recording is up to the high standards we expect from BIS. This is a SACD but I was listening in ordinary two-channel stereo. The booklet note is helpful and the whole disc makes for attractive if not wholly satisfying listening.

Stephen Barber

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing