One of the most grown-up review sites around

50,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


A most rewarding CD
Renate Eggebrecht violin


Nick Barnard review
Michael Cookson review

Acte Prealable returns
with New Releases

Anderson Choral music

colourful and intriguing

Pekarsky Percussion Ensemble

one of Berlioz greatest works

Rebecca Clarke Frank Bridge
High-octane performances

An attractive Debussy package

immaculate Baiba Skride

eloquent Cello Concerto

tension-filled work

well crafted and intense

another entertaining volume

reeking of cordite

Pappano with a strong cast

imaginatively constructed quartets

the air from another planet

vibrantly sung

NOT a budget performance

very attractive and interesting

finesse and stylistic assurance

Plain text for smartphones & printers

We are currently offering in excess of 50,400 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
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
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
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Charles KOECHLIN (1867-1950 )
Complete Works for Saxophone
Sonatina for saxophone & piano, op.194 no.1 (1942) [11:00]
Sonatina for saxophone & piano, op.194b no.2 (1943) [10:16]
Monodie no.9, for alto saxophone (from: 12 Monodies, op.213) (1947) [1:54]
Le Repos de Tityre, for soprano saxophone (from: 11 Monodies for wind instruments, op.216) (1947) [3:28]
24 Duos for two saxophones, op.186 (1946) [37:34]
15 Etudes, for alto saxophone and piano, op.188 (1943) [40:58]
7 Pièces, for tenor saxophone & piano (1942) [24:22]
Epitaphe de Jean Harlow, for flute, alto saxophone & piano, op.164 (1937) [3:45]
Wind Septet, op.165 (1937) [15:21]
Wind Septet, op.165bis (1937) [8:03]
Prelude no.5 for wind septet (from: op.209 (1946-47)) [1:16]
Sonatine, for soprano saxophone and chamber orchestra, op.194 no.1 (1942) [11:58]
Sonatine, for soprano saxophone and chamber orchestra, op.194b no.2 (1943) [11:19]
David Brutti (alto/soprano saxophone) (monodie, Repos, septets, prelude, sonatines)
Mario Caroli (flute) (Epitaphe)
Duo Disecheis (David Brutti, soprano/alto saxophone; Filippo Farinelli, piano) (sonatinas, etudes, pièces, epitaphe)
Atem Saxophone Quartet (David Brutti, soprano/alto/tenor/baritone; Davide Bartelucci, alto/tenor; Francesco Ciocca, baritone; Massimo Valentini, baritone) (24 Duos)
Orchestra Città Aperta (winds/strings)/Filippo Farinelli (septets, prelude, sonatines)
rec. 2011/12 (see end of review for details).
BRILLIANT CLASSICS 9266 [3 CDs: 64:28 + 65:31 + 51:50] 

As an old man Charles Koechlin wrote: "One of the most dreadful diseases of our day is the desire to be modern", but he was no starchy conservative. Far from it, in fact - Koechlin counted among his friends virtually all the leading French musicians of his day, old and young, adventurous and less so, and acknowledged and even assimilated all the trends. He was a big fan of the burgeoning Hollywood film industry - witness the many works or movements named after popular actresses - and became president of the Popular Music Federation in France.
He also wrote a fair bit for Adolphe Sax's recently-invented instrument, praising it in his academic writing as "a timbre that no other can replace". All such solo works in his corpus are brought together on this new bargain-priced triple CD from Brilliant Classics, one of a wave of recent releases featuring this most underrated of French composers' music.
In fact, although this set has much to recommend it musically, it is not quite the bargain it might have been. For one thing, there is a fair amount of 'recycling', from the piano and chamber orchestra versions of the two saxophone sonatinas to the Sept Pièces, originally intended for horn. More importantly, though, the array of recording dates and venues has thrown up some inconsistencies in sound quality. There is actually quite severe distortion towards the end of the Wind Septet, where the microphones just cannot cope with a combination of volume and high pitches. There is similar loss at the end of op.165bis, and a small amount in the flute during Epitaphe. Timpani's engineers, on their virtually simultaneous recording of the Septet (1C1193), show Brilliant how it should be done.
On the whole, however, considering that this release can be found on the internet, by the alert shopper, for around the same price as a single Naxos disc, these audio issues, once noted, may be worth disregarding for access to Koechlin's marvellous music, certainly until new recordings come along. After all, the aforementioned distortion only affects a few minutes' worth of music, and sound quality of the first two CDs is uniformly impressive. Capturing well both saxophone and piano is no simple task.
In any case, it is hard to imagine anyone not liking Koechlin's music, whether for saxophone or any other instruments: all of the late-period pieces heard here are immensely melodic and idiomatic, uncomplicated on the surface yet expressive of a considered intelligence that writes for listeners and performers as well as self. In this way he can be compared with Saint-Saëns, to whom he came to bear a physical likeness in later years - though with a much more impressive beard.
There are many highlights, such as the 24 Duos, which combine SATB instruments in various pairings. These should be required study for all saxophonists, yet they are far superior to mere didactics. Ditto the 15 Etudes, which are a collection of beautiful cameos rather than studies in the more academic sense. The 7 Pieces are even more strikingly memorable, like Koechlin's most popular Epitaphe: nostalgic, sometimes haunting works that are however "full of the visionary hope that leads to optimism, energy and joy as vital antidotes to the problems of everyday life", as annotator Robert Orledge aptly sums up the composer's music. It is worth noting that, unlike some, nowhere in any of these works does Koechlin make use of the platitudes and clichés of the jazz instrument.
As the CD cover implies, star of the show on these three discs is saxophonist David Brutti, who appears as soloist, as one half of the Duo Disecheis, a quarter of the Atem Saxophone Quartet and even in the ensemble of the Orchestra Città Aperta. His tonal colourings are lustrous and luxurious, his phrasing natural and gratifying. Running a close second is Filippo Farinelli, pianist or conductor on numerous tracks. The booklet notes are in English only, but informative and well written, supplemented by detailed biographies of all performers.
Of Koechlin - whose Alsace-originating name is pronounced as if spelt Kéclin (rhyming with French 'né' and nasal 'vin') - British critic Wilfrid Mellers wrote that he counts "among the very select number of contemporary composers who really matter". For 1942 this was a particularly prescient remark, and it is high time he was allowed to take his rightful place in the pantheon alongside Fauré, Debussy, Ravel and Saint-Saëns.
Collected reviews and contact at

Recording details
Piano e Forte, Perugia, Italy, 6 May 2011 (Etudes)
22 April 2012 (Sonatinas - piano versions)
1 July 2012 (Pièces)
23 September 2012 (Monodies)
Sala Moriconi, Foligno, Perugia, 1 November 2011 (Duos)
23-27 February 2012 (Septets, Sonatinas - chamber)
Riff Raff Jazz Studio, Rome, 1 October 2012 (Epitaphe)
Gubbio, Perugia (Prelude)