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

Leticia Gómez-Tagle
Chopin, Liszt, Scarlatti

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

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Jehan ALAIN (1911-1940)
Prélude et fugue, JA87A (1935) [4:21]
Henri DUTILLEUX (1916-2013)
Piano Sonata (1946-1948) [24:49]
Maurice RAVEL (1875-1937)
Le tombeau de Couperin (1914-1917) [24:51]
Olivier MESSIAEN (1908-1992)
Le baiser de l’enfant-Jésus, from Vingt regards sur l’enfant-Jésus (1944] [13:28]
Kathryn Stott (piano)
rec. 2014, Hallé St Peters, Manchester, UK
Reviewed as a 24/96 download from
Pdf booklet included
BIS BIS-2148 SACD [68:37]

Goodness, it’s been a vintage year for BIS piano recordings, among them Folke Gräsbeck’s Ainola recital, superbly engineered by Take5’s Jens Braun. His colleague Hans Kipfer – the engineer on Solitaires – has also distinguished himself recently with Sonja Fräki’s album of solo piano music by Kalevi Aho. With these and other fine releases from Hyperion I’ll find it tougher than ever to pick the best of the year's crop.

The Lancashire-born pianist and teacher Kathryn Stott needs no introduction. She has been busy as an accompanist on several BIS recordings, but it seems the aptly titled Solitaires is her first solo recital for them since Schulhoff’s enthusiastically received Hot Music of 2001 (review). With this new recital she focuses on the repertoire for which she is best known, French music of the 20th century. Her account of Jehan Alain’s Prélude et fugue – actually two separate pieces yoked together – is admirably direct; her roving Prélude blends clarity and warmth, and the Fugue is cleanly articulated.

It’s impossible not to be reminded of both Ravel and Prokofiev when listening to the sparkling Allegro from the Dutilleux sonata. It may have its passing dissonances and knotty passages but in Stott’s hands this music is also highly approachable. Her control of rhythm and detail is exemplary and Kipfer’s recording renders bass weight and the piano’s pellucid treble with striking fidelity. The shimmer of the second movement, Lied, is especially well caught by pianist and engineer alike; the briared tangles, motility and iridescence of the Choral et Variations are also encompassed with ease. Indeed I can't imagine a performance that brings out the nuance and variety of the piece better than this.

It's clear this is turning into another delectable issue. Stott is unfailingly responsive to all this music’s demands and tackles even the most challenging passages with élan. Ravel’s homage to Couperin, one of the loveliest things he ever wrote, really comes alive here. In the Prélude and Forlane Stott has an uncanny instinct for combining colour with rhythmic vitality, while in the Fugue she leavens formal rigour with a certain charm. She invests the Rigaudon with a Petrushka-like impetuosity, and the airy Menuet is spun with a balletic grace. Oh, and what dexterity in the Toccata, which surely demands a bravo or three.

As so often the best is left until last. Le baiser de l’enfant-Jésus (The kiss of the infant Jesus), the fifteenth piece in Olivier Messiaen’s epic meditation, contains some of the most finely calibrated piano sounds imaginable. Stott captures to perfection the music’s air of rapt stillness, its gentle bass haloed by a glowing treble. As for those upward-wending epiphanies Stott makes them pulse with a profound and lasting joy. Not since Steven Osborne’s towering traversal for Hyperion have I heard this music so luminously played. BIS should waste no time and schedule a recording of Vingt regards with this splendid artist; I just know it would be a winner.

A well planned and magnificently executed recital; Hans Kipfer’s recording is top-notch, too.

Dan Morgan



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