Your clickable banner could be here: details
    If you cannot see an advert immediately above this line click here.

Editor: Marc Bridle


Webmaster: Len Mullenger



WWW MusicWeb

Search Music Web with FreeFind

Any Review or Article


Seen and Heard Concert Review



Dvorak & Janacek; Natalie Clein (cello) Christine Brewer (sop), Louise Winter (mezzo), John Mac Master (ten), Neal Davies (bar); Thomas Trotter (organ); London Philharmonic Choir, London Symphony Chorus, Philharmonia Chorus; Philharmonia Orchestra, Sir Charles Mackerras, Royal Festival Hall, 29th June 2004 (AR)

Sir Charles Mackerras opened his all Slavonic programme with a sparkling account of Dvorak's popular Carnival Overture. Here the score was stripped of its usual bombast with conductor teasing out the translucent textures of the score with the Philharmonia Orchestra on top form; they clearly enjoy giving their best for one of our finest conductors.

Natalie Clein, winner of the 1994 BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition, substituted for an indisposed Han-Na Chang. In stark contrast with Joshua Bell's vital and incandescent account of Brahms' Violin Concerto (in part one of Mackerras' Dvorak/Janacek Series), Clein's lifeless performance of Dvorak's Cello Concerto lent a whole new meaning to the word lacklustre.

It would be an act of generosity to describe her playing as mediocre: despite her animated grimaces and attempts to act passion none of this came through in her playing, which largely lacked the real feeling and bravura required for this work. Whatever kind of emotional trip she may have been having she was not able to communicate it to the listening public.

Clein's opening passages of the Allegro were indistinct, with her thin wiry tone being buried by the full-bodied and expressive Philharmonia strings; indeed, throughout the cellos had more persona and presence than the soloist who was so inaudible she could have been miming the work. In the Adagio we needed velvet and she gave us vinegar, producing an acidic tone which negated the mellowness of the mood. Her playing lacked contour and colour - monochrome met monotone in a featureless landscape. By total contrast the horns and trombones were dynamic and incisive.

With the Finale Clein's playing was rough and ready, producing ragged phrasing and a scrawny tone. What went some way towards saving this deeply disappointing performance was the sterling work of Mackerras and the superlative playing of the Philharmonia.

What followed turned out to be a stunning and inspired account of Janacek's much underrated Glagolitic Mass. Mackerras is regarded as one of the leading interpreters of the music of Janacek and judging from his glowing performance of the Glagolitic Mass one can see why; his reputation is very well deserved. This intense and dramatic performance glowed from beginning to end with the Philharmonia and massed choruses surpassing themselves.

The Gloria was especially overpowering, with the pounding rhythms from three timpanists having intense impact, played with incredible precision and incisiveness. The cellos and double basses in the Credo had the appropriate brooding and dark graininess required while Andrew Smith's forceful timpani were electrifying.


The Varhany organ solo of Thomas Trotter sounded more like improvised jazz played on a Hammond Organ, producing wild, mind blowing sounds. The concluding Intrada was simply awe-inspiring, the violins playing with white-hot intensity and concluding with Andrew Smith producing the final thud. Mackerras and his magnificent forces received an enthusiastic, richly deserved ovation, especially for the massed voices of the three choirs who were quite outstanding. Of the soloists soprano Christine Brewer had the right weight and depth of tone, singing with warmth and radiance.

It was a pity that this great performance was not recorded for prosperity: a truly memorable account of an underrated and under- played work.
Alex Russell

Further Listening
Dvorak Cello Concerto: Pierre Fournier (cello), Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, George Szell & Bloch: Schelomo; Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, Alfred Wallenstein: DG: 02894291552
Janacek Glagolitic Mass & Taras Bulba: Evelyn Lear, Hilde Rossel-Majdan, Ernst Haefligiger, Franz Cras, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra & Chorus; Rafael Kubelik: DG: GALLERIA 429 182-2.


Back to the Top     Back to the Index Page  






MusicWeb - The International Web Site Founder: Len Mullenger [UK], Classical Editor: Rob Barnett [UK],  Regular Reviewers:   Steve Arloff [UK], Guy Aron [Australia], Tony Augarde [UK], Terry Barfoot [UK], Melinda Bargreen [USA], David J. Barker [Australia], Rob Barnett [UK], Nick Barnard [UK], Robert Beattie [UK], Dave Billinge [UK], Peter Bright [UK], Byzantion [UK], Colin Clarke [UK], Dominy Clements [Netherlands], Michael Cookson [UK], Hubert Culot [Belgium], Evan Dickerson [UK], Gavin Dixon [UK], Robert J. Farr [UK], Christopher Fifield [UK], Göran Forsling [Sweden], John France [UK], Patrick Gary [USA], Pierre Giroux [CAN], Paul C. Godfrey [UK], Michael Greenhalgh [UK], William Hedley [France], Gary Higginson [UK], Neil Horner [UK], Robert Hugill UK], David Jennings [UK], Bill Kenny [UK], William S Kreindler [USA], Ian Lace [UK], Em Marshall-Luck [UK], Oleg Ledeniov [USA]Rob Maynard [UK], David A McConnell [USA], Kirk McElhearn [France], Robert McKechnie [UK], Ralph Moore [RMo] [UK], Dan Morgan [UK], Margarida Mota-Bull [UK], Glyn Pursglove [UK], John Quinn [UK], Carla Rees [UK], Brian Reinhart [USA], Donald Satz [USA], Mark Sealey [USA], John Sheppard [UK], George Stacy, Kevin Sutton [USA], Bert Thompson [USA], Simon Thompson [UK], Zane Turner [Australia], Steve Vasta [UK], Johan van Veen [Netherlands], Raymond Walker [UK], Derek Warby [UK], Brian Wilson [UK], Jonathan Woolf [UK] Leslie Wright [USA]. A complete list of contributors can be seen here


Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

MusicWeb International thank Naxos for the no-strings use of their server to mount the website.