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


colourful imaginative harmony
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 n/a
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

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Walter RABL (1873-1940)
Quartet for clarinet, violin, cello and piano Op.1 [23.01]
Fantasiestücke for violin, cello and piano Op. 2 [20.48]
Sonata for violin and piano Op.6 [27.41]
Wenzel Fuchs (clarinet); Genevičve Laurenceau (violin); László Fenyö (cello); Oliver Triendl (piano)
rec. Siemensvilla Berlin-Lankwitz, 20-23 December 2012
CPO 777 849-2 [71:59]

This recording is a charmer but not an essential purchase. It is beautifully crafted, gentle music, and, at least in the Quartet, something of a curiosity.

Walter Rabl was perhaps best known in his lifetime as a conductor, though his quartet has maintained a small hold in the repertoire – there is a rival recording, coupled with a quintet by Josef Labor (Cedille CDR90000088) by the Orion Ensemble. The curiosity is the instrumentation – clarinet, violin, cello and piano. I know of no other work with this combination until it was used by Hindemith in 1938, and more famously, in Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time. In Messiaen’s case, the instrumentation was determined by the musicians available in his prison camp. In this instance, the instrumentation was deliberately chosen for a competition initiated by the Vienna Tonkünstlerverein. The 1896 competition was for chamber works that included at least a single wind instrument. Brahms was patron of the organization, and on the jury. He found the piece admirable, it won first prize, and Brahms recommended Rabl to his own publisher, Simrock. The piece was published with a dedication to Brahms.

The circumstances tell us something about the music. One can see why Brahms was so impressed. There is a delicacy especially evident in the second and third (of four) movements. Rabl has both technical proficiency – nothing outstays its welcome – and a wonderful ear for the distinctive characteristics of each instrument and also for how they might blend. Nothing hurts the ear but charm and technically assured construction do not make great music. Nothing threatens or pushes at the boundaries. This is comfortable, assured music, in a conservative idiom, to my ear more Schumannesque than Brahmsian.

The same qualities are apparent in the Fantasiestücke, eight delicate pieces between one and four minutes long. Again, the episodes that linger most in the memory are the shorter ones. The Sonata, Op. 6, published in 1899, is perhaps the most Brahmsian of the three works. The two instruments are treated as equals – the piano is not just accompaniment. The writing is virtuosic, varied – there is a charming waltz in the third movement, and the final movement has aspects of a nursery rhyme.

Performances are excellent – the players are experienced chamber players. The recording is clear, but raises an interesting question for the listener. The recording was made in late December, and at least one of the musicians, had a cold, leading to some heavy breathing and at least one quiet cough. I was not distracted, but someone who preferred a clinical studio recording might well have been.

Rabl gave up composing altogether by 1903. Perhaps he knew his limitations.

Michael Wilkinson



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