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



Max BRUCH (1838-1920)
String Quintet in E flat major (1918) [18:46]
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-1847)
String Quintet No. 1 in A major, Op.18 (1826, rev. 1832) [29:53]
String Quintet No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 87 (1845) [27:23]
Henschel Quartet (Christoph Henschel (violin); Markus Henschel (violin); Monika Henschel-Schwind (viola); Mathias Beyer-Karlshøj (cello)) with Kazuki Sawa (viola) (Bruch); Roland Glassl, (viola) (Mendelssohn)
rec. 21 July 2008 (Bruch), 4-5 April 2009 (Mendelssohn), August Everding Saal, Grünwald, Germany. DDD
NEOS CLASSICS 30901 [76:12]
Experience Classicsonline

This outstanding release from the Henschel Quartet marks their recording debut for the Neos Classics label. A fascinating Max Bruch world première is further cause for celebration.

I have followed the career of the Henschel closely since reviewing their recording of Mendelssohn’s ‘Complete string quartets’ for Sony/BMG on Arte Nova Classics 82876 64009 2. For MusicWeb International I compared the Henschel’s recording with what I considered to be the finest alternative sets: Emerson/Deutsche Grammophon; Talich/Calliope; Aurora/Naxos; Bartholdy/Arts Music Red Line and the Pacifica/Cedille. Not only were the Henschel my premier recommendation, I felt their performances were such a remarkable artistic achievement that I confidently acclaimed the set as my 2005 ‘Record of the Year’ (see my comparative review).

The same year they followed up their Mendelssohn with a quite outstanding recording of Beethoven’s Quartet in B flat major, Op. 18/6 ‘Lobkowitz’ and Quartet in E flat major, Op. 127. Deserving of the highest praise the recording can compete with the finest versions around (Sony/BMG on Arte Nova Classics 82876 63996 20).

I thought the Munich-based quartet exceptional when I first heard them in recital at Richmond in 2005. Since then they have developed an even rounder tone. Scrupulous preparation, indubitable professionalism and broad experience are qualities that have provided an even greater assurance to their interpretations. See the Henschels website: The Strad in April 2007 carried an article on them.

On 1 July 2009 the Henschel celebrated their anniversary of 15 years with the same line-up playing recitals at their three day annual musical festival at the old monastery at Seligenstadt, near Frankfurt. Having attended several of their recitals I have witnessed their rapid ascent into the exclusive top rank of ensembles on the world stage. They follow in the footsteps of the great Amadeus, LaSalle, Melos, Italiano and Alban Berg quartets - all standard-bearers from a previous golden generation. Chamber music lovers are fortunate to have performers of the foremost quality of the Henschel and Emerson on the scene today.

Lynchpin of the quartet Christoph Henschel is undoubtedly one of the finest first violins around today. Playing his 1721 ‘Cobbett’ Stradivarius he leads with impeccable tuning and a magnificent silvery timbre. Second violinist Markus Henschel plays a 1725 Stradivarius and Monika Henschel-Schwind a rich-toned Gasparo da Salò viola from 1565-1600. Cellist Mathias Beyer-Karlshøj has chosen to use a fifty year old Hjorth cello. All four instruments have modern set-ups with contemporary strings and bows.

A testimony to their assiduousness and sheer hard work this release is a veritable delight. Alongside the Mendelssohn quintets we have a world première recording of Bruch’s String Quintet in E-flat major. For the Bruch they are seamlessly augmented on second viola by the services of Japanese string player Kazuki Sawa. For the Mendelssohn works German violist Roland Glassl works with the Henschel. Outstanding is the unanimity of ensemble and immaculate intonation. Devoid of any hint of ostentation there is a natural feel to their phrasing together with an insightful grasp of structure. As I have come to expect their careful use of vibrato and choice of tempi feels just right. I played this hybrid SACD on my standard players and was delighted by the clarity of sound and the excellent balance. Interesting and informative booklet notes add to this splendidly presented disc.

The increasing popularity of the music of Max Bruch is sweeping away the myth that he is a one-work composer known only for his famous G minor Violin Concerto. At the several Recorded Music Societies that I attend Bruch is one of the most frequently chosen composers by the members. In addition to Bruch’s best known scores there are a number of lesser known gems that deserve general discovery namely the: Double Concerto for two pianos; Op.88a; Double concerto for clarinet and viola, Op.88 (also version for violin and viola); Romance for viola and orchestra, Op.85; Swedish Dances, Op.63; Suite after Russian Folk Songs, Op. 79b and the Serenade on Swedish Folk Melodies (1915). Bruch was also very active in the field of chamber music with scores ranging from the Eight pieces for clarinet, viola and piano, Op.83; two String Quartets, Op. 9/10; a Septet for wind and strings (1849) to a String Octet (1920). There is also a large amount of sacred and secular choral works, and many songs in his substantial output much of which is rarely heard.

In a manner similar to that of Brahms the eighty year old Bruch undertook a flurry of chamber music activity in the last couple of years of his life spent in retirement in Berlin. After the horrors of the First World War in this Indian-summer of creativity Bruch began writing his String Quintet in E-flat major in 1918; the String Quintet in A minor in 1918/9 and a String Octet in the early months of 1920. Many will be familiar with the 1997/8 Baden-Baden recording of the String Quintet in A minor and Octet performed by the Ensemble Ulf Hoelscher on CPO 999 451-2 (c/w Bruch Piano Quintet). Bruch’s biographer Christopher Fifield has stated that the manuscripts of the trio of unpublished chamber scores and other works were assigned by the composer’s three surviving children to the care of publisher Rudolf Eichmann. Along with several other scores they vanished and were thought destroyed or missing in the Second World War. Fortunately Bruch’s daughter-in-law Gertrude Bruch had prepared hand written copies of all three scores. Fortuitously her copies of the String Quintet in A minor and String Octet turned up in the BBC Music Library, London.

The whereabouts of Bruch’s E flat major String Quintet was not known for many years and thought lost. Then in the 1980s Gertrude Bruch’s hand-written copy emerged in private hands and was subsequently bought at a Sotheby’s auction by the German music publisher Henle in July 2006. Thankfully all three scores are now available in published editions. In July 2008 the Henschel together with second violist Kazuki Sawa were entrusted with what was claimed to be the world première performance of the Bruch E flat major Quintet at the Wigmore Hall, London. 

In the opening movement of the Bruch marked Andante con moto the five string voices just melt gloriously together. I felt suffused by music evocative of golden sheaves of corn awaiting harvest gently swaying in a warm breeze. Truly this is playing that I didn’t want to end. The relaxing atmosphere of the opening movement immediately vanishes in the amenable Allegro a movement that the Henschel and Sawa propel forward unstintingly with abundant exuberance. What a marvellous surprise it was to hear the comforting music of the Andante con moto for the first time. With playing of this elevated standard I am inspired to write in the manner of the poet W.B. Yeats that ones soul feels at ease and ones heart has found peace. This Andante is surely one of Bruch’s most glorious offerings. In the varying mood-swings of the final Andante con moto – Allegro ma non troppo vivace the music radiates the joy and rapture of heady summer days. At 1:18-2:12 Bruch lets loose with energetic writing of passionate fervour. Again at 3:34-4:17 the high-stepping music returns with dynamic zest and vitality. With considerable confidence the Henschel and Sawa close the score with a sense of bold carousing.

Whereas Bruch’s score came at the end of his life, Mendelssohn’s String Quintet No. 1 in A major was a product of his youth composed in the spring of 1826. Following the death of violinist Eduard Reitz in 1832, Mendelssohn wrote a replacement movement, an Intermezzo to serve as a memorial to his friend and teacher. Cast in four movements the score was published in 1833 as his op. 18. 

The extended opening movement of the String Quintet No. 1 marked Allegro con moto is confidently rendered enfolded in brooding tenderness. Mendelssohn’s often flamboyant writing for the first violin is evident. For a sad lament the tempi of the Intermezzo - Andante sostenuto feels just right. This is not a movement where Mendelssohn wears his heart on his sleeve. Contrapuntal in design with fugato passages, the bright and good-humoured yet restless Scherzo - Allegro di molto is interpreted with considerable energy whilst maintaining a crucial degree of delicacy. At points 1:56-2:41 and 2:54-3:30 Mendelssohn seems to hint at the amusement of a Scottish reel. Aggressive ‘jabs’ from the cello at 2:41-2:54 make a considerable impression. In the brisk and extrovert finale Allegro vivace I love the way the forthright players ensure that the music just cascades along.

Mendelssohn’s String Quintet No. 2 in B flat major, Op. 87 dates from 1845 - a late work composed at Bad Soden during a time of illness. The four movement score had to wait until 1851 for its posthumous publication.

The opening Allegro vivace inhabits a rather agitated sound-world over a prevailing sense of urgency. One notices how Mendelssohn again gives the first violin part considerable attention. Cheerful and lyrical the marvellously written Andante scherzando is light on its feet. Here one can imagine novice dancers swirling around on an over-waxed dance floor. Beautiful if containing somewhat dark melodies the dense textures of the splendid Adagio e lento are remarkably portrayed. With writing of a temperamental and unpredictable feel Mendelssohn ensures that the listener never seems to know what is coming next. Hyperactive and rather inhospitable the final movement Allegro molto vivace is vigorously played here, conveying heightened tension.

There are surprisingly few recordings of Mendelssohn’s Quintets. Of those that I have heard the version from Hausmusik London has been the most satisfying. The double set was recorded using period instruments at York University in 1989 and East Woodhay, Berkshire in 1993 on Virgin Veritas 7243 5618092 5 (c/w Mendelssohn String Quartet No.2 and Octet). Another version of some note is from the Fine Arts Quartet with guest violist Danielo Rossi who recorded them together with the original third movement Minuetto from the String Quintet No. 1. The Fine Arts recording was produced in 2007 at Steinfurt, Germany on Naxos 8.570448. 

This release is a remarkable artistic achievement for the augmented Henschels that should be snapped up immediately.

Michael Cookson



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.