Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

Johnny Bradley
Handmade Kitchen Knives



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


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom


CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline

Charles-Auguste de BÉRIOT (1802-1870)
Duo concertants Op.57 No.1 in G minor [16:20]; No.2 in E minor [20:01]; No.3 in D major [16:43]
Six Duos caractéristiques pour deux violons, composés sur des motifs du Ballet Espagnol du Prince M. Youssoupow, Op.113 [21:26]
Christine Sohn and John Marcus (violins)
rec. St John Chrysostom Church, Newmarket Ontario, 21-23 June 2007
NAXOS 8.570748 [74:49]
Experience Classicsonline

One of the many clever marketing strategies adopted by Naxos has been in the creation of many series. Whether it is British String Quartets or Martucci orchestral music, as a collector it is very hard to resist a completist’s compulsion to collect all the discs issued under that banner. This disc is a member of another Naxos series; namely “19th Century Violinist-Composer”. Perhaps the impact of this series is slightly diluted since the composers are of a period rather than a country and the music ranges from orchestral to instrumental to chamber.

Charles-Auguste de Bériot is not a name well-known to most music lovers. However, if you have gone through the conservatoire system as a violinist you will almost certainly have played at least one of his violin concertos. As well elaborated in Keith Anderson’s interesting and informative liner-notes he was a Belgian violinist from the early part of the 19th Century. He established a school of violin playing that led to many of the great French and Belgian players later that same century including Vieuxtemps, Ernst and Ysaÿe. No surprise then that the works featured on this CD belong to the great tradition of violinistic fireworks. Perhaps more interesting is the lyrical element in his music. Given that he was married to the opera singer Maria Malibran I don’t think it is too fanciful to hear an almost Rossini-esque quality to much of his melodic writing. The Encyclopedia Britannica encapsulates the style perfectly – “a particular performance style (the Franco-Belgian school) that combined classical elegance with technical virtuosity”. 

So, it is with that style in mind that I approached this disc. It should be said from the outset that both players have techniques comfortably able to deal with anything thrown at them by de Bériot. Throughout, there is a clearly hierarchical approach to the compositions; Violin 1 leads and Violin 2 accompanies. This is not intellectually demanding music to listen to. To be honest the predictability of much of the music and that lack of true interplay between parts does not make for the most compelling of listening experiences. I imagine that the Trois Duos Concertants Op.57 in particular were written with a pedagogical function in mind. Each is in a standard fast-slow-fast three movement format. Crudely put, the first movements are the most seriously argued musically; the second movements are song-like and lyrical although de Bériot ornaments and elaborates the material as the movements progress and the Rondo-Finales are lighter in feel and fleet in style. The well-filled disc is completed by a twenty minute linked series of Six Duos caractéristiques Op.113 which are more equally and overtly virtuosic. They point the way perhaps towards the Sarasate Spanish Dances. This is one of the earliest pieces to demonstrate the Franco/Belgian feel for things Spanish with movements marked tempo di Fandango and tempo di Bolero. Fully appreciating just how hard it is to play this music as well as Sohn and Marcus do I am sorry not to be able to be more enthusiastic about their performances. I listened to the disc several times and each time came to the same conclusion. As recorded this music does not smile. There is little if any of the Gallic grace or wit which, as outlined above, is crucially central to this style of music. You cannot imagine for a moment a Grumiaux or a Campoli ever playing this with the unbending muscularity that Sohn displays. There was a BBC broadcast some years ago of Oscar Shumsky and his son Eric playing the violin/viola duets of Johann Kalliwoda. I remember it very clearly – music of very similar stature and intent to the de Bériot here yet in those hands both revelatory and magical. Sohn’s phrasing is predictable and unimaginative. The published scores of these pieces are singularly lacking in dynamics or expressive instructions but there is a literalness to the playing here that is disappointing. They are not aided by a recorded environment that is truthful but veering towards the clinical. If I had to guess, I would say this is not a labour of love by these artists. What one seeks from a performer are those interpretative insights that illuminate surprise and delight. That is the way new light can be thrown on music whether unfamiliar or central to the repertoire. Because this music does not contain passages of technical fireworks in the style of Sarasate or Paganini it becomes doubly important that in place of display easy grace and elegant wit should rule. 

I seem to recall seeing somewhere that Naxos were intending to expand this series of Duet discs – if they entrust this to these same artists I will not be seeking those discs out except as a reference source - not for listening pleasure.

Nick Barnard 


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

(short month)

Orphic Moments

Metamorphoses Books I & II


Donizetti - Le Convenienze ed Inconvenienze Teatrali

Chamber Symphonies 2 & 4

French Cello Concertos







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

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

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

Pat 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

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.