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


REVIEW 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 from

Anton RUBINSTEIN (1829-1894)
Piano Quartet in F major, Op.55bis, after the Quintet for piano and winds, Op.55 (c.1855, rev. 1860) [37:11]
Piano Quartet in C major, Op.66 (1864) [39:15]
Leslie Howard (piano)
Rita Manning (violin); Morgan Goff (viola); Justin Pearson (cello)
rec. May 2013, Potton Hall, Suffolk
HYPERION CDA68018 [76:28]

Not long ago I reviewed an old Melodiya recording of Anton Rubinstein’s Quintet for piano, flute, clarinet, horn and bassoon, Op.55. Here it is again though the title Piano Quartet and opus number Op.55bis will give you the clue that this is the version for piano and strings. To my considerable surprise this is apparently making its first ever appearance on disc. So too, it seems, is the companion work, the Piano Quartet in C major, Op.66. Clearly there are many more battles to be won if Rubinstein’s chamber music is to take root.

Published in 1860 as a wind quintet, the guise for piano and strings reduces the personnel by a factor of one. Whilst we know that the composer performed in the Wind Quintet version there is no evidence that he did so in this string version. The piano is, in any case, primus inter pares in the work. The rich lyric theme parcelled out to the cello is finely played and reminds us that whilst Rubinstein was indebted to Mendelssohn his own scherzos tend to be more muscular affairs and less deft. The slow movement is full of harmonic interest, the piano often to the fore with rippling arpeggios or fiery opulence. The airy and confident swing of the finale owes a bit to Schumannesque drama but it’s played with dash and brio by members of the Locrian Ensemble with Liszt-maestro Leslie Howard the commanding presence at the keyboard.

Composed in 1864 and published two years later the Piano Quartet in C major is indeed ‘urbane and agreeable’. It was very popular at the time and one hear why. Quite why it has disappeared so comprehensively from the repertoire is perhaps less easy to say, but it’s hardly alone in that respect, and Rubinstein has never been much more than a fringe composer. The dainty second subject of the first movement shows what a subtle ensemble can do with it – plenty is what, with this ensemble – and as Rubinstein is quiet elastic with his material there are many opportunities for all the players to stretch out in solo discourse both solemn and more engaged. The slow movement opens with gaunt piano statements, the strings responding in kind to this intensity, and a contrasting songfulness later floods the music led by the strings, the piano decorating around. For a previously unrecorded work this movement alone offers a rich strata of expressive depth. Jump to: the finale opens with ebullience and self-confidence, elements of folklore and even Brahms seeming to coalesce. Rubinstein is not without humour either, as this finale shows.

The performances are splendid – sensitive, energised, and with fine ensemble, duly caught by Hyperion’s engineers at Potton Hall. And the music certainly doesn’t deserve its neglect when advocacy such as this reveals such depths.

Jonathan Woolf