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


Reger Violin Sonatas
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Brahms Symphony 3
Dvorak Symphony 8
9 cello sonatas
Piano Music

Clara Schumann
piano concerto

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


Plain text for smartphones & printers

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

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Édouard LALO (1823-1892)
Overture - Le Roi d'Ys (1876) [11:52]
Symphonie Espagnole Op.21 (1875) [33:09]
Concerto Russe Op.29 (1879) [32:46]
Suisse Romande Orchestra/Ernest Ansermet (Le Roi)
Isaac Stern (violin), Philadelphia Orchestra/Eugene Ormandy
Gérard Poulet (violin), Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra/Vladimir Válek (Russe)
rec. Victoria Hall, Geneva, Switzerland, May 1960 (Le Roi) Philadelphia, 10 October 1956 (Symphonie) Prague, 5-6 January 1994 (Russe)
PRAGA DIGITALS PRD/DSD 350 094 [78:06]

This is a mixture of recordings from three different eras of technology, gathered together for the very good reason that all the music is by Édouard Lalo. Since so little of his music is available there are worse reasons.
The poorly translated and/or edited insert has a lot of interesting content and is worth reading, indeed is required reading to bring one up to speed on a man who can be firmly categorised with Richard Strauss' famous phrase about himself, a 'first class second-rate composer'. Lalo wrote a substantial amount for the violin supported as he was by the great virtuoso Pablo Sarasate, and two of these works were for him. As it happens Sarasate firmly rejected the Concerto Russe but was fond of the Symphonie Espagnole. This is probably the reason the latter gained more exposure and a permanent place in the violin repertoire.
The overture to Lalo's briefly successful opera Le Roi d'Ys was recorded by Decca in the golden days of the early 1960s when everything the Suisse Romande and Ansermet performed was received with enthusiasm by public and critics alike. This item was part of an LP of French Overtures released by Decca in early 1961 and subsequently reissued on Ace of Diamonds. The digital re-mastering has come up well apart from a bit of fizziness in the upper strings and one can hear the pleasant acoustic of the Victoria Hall around a lively and attractive performance. The overture itself is an enjoyable piece, by turns lyrical and dramatic. I wonder why pieces such as this no longer appear in our concert halls. This overture seems to have gone the way of so many short pieces by such as Suppé, Chabrier and Saint-Saëns which used to be popular in programmes of yesteryear.
The Symphonie Espagnole was recorded by Isaac Stern and the Philadelphia as early as 1956 and issued on Columbia in the USA as a mono LP. The stereo recording couldn't have been issued at that time which makes this interesting technically. It sounds quite realistic so probably derives from a genuine early experimental stereo master. The engineers seem to have been a bit scared of quiet passages because they boost the sound noticeably at times and overall it is a bit rough compared to the sound Decca achieved just four years later in Geneva. In the 1950s and 1960s Stern was a top player and made dozens of superb recordings across a huge repertoire. He is thoroughly at home here and gives as good a performance as it is possible to imagine. Even Sarasate would have been impressed. Stern has a fast vibrato and plays with muscular and passionate enthusiasm. The famous finale is a class act indeed.
The final piece, the Concerto Russe is much less well known. Here we have a recording which I guess derives from a Supraphon digital master. It is certainly a much more modern sound and reflects the way Czech engineers maintained very high standards of realism in their recordings long after the mainstream had gone for a doctored studio sound. The sound has clarity and impact, and zero background noise - with the rider that my ageing ears might be filtering some hiss. Poulet is an excellent violinist and is well supported by the always reliable Czech Radio Orchestra. The concerto opens well but quickly loses direction and we are reduced to attractive violinistic display with the orchestra chuntering along amiably. Despite occasional moments of imagination and some attractive Russian folk melodies the work never comes to much more than this. It is lively and tuneful and includes some exciting high passagework for the soloist but I found it essentially unmemorable. The fact that Sarasate firmly rejected the work gives support to my reaction.
Two out of the three works are worth your attention and the third is pleasant enough. Muted enthusiasm.
Dave Billinge