Schubert sonatas

Newest Releases

Piano solo and duet
  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett


Some items
to consider

Free classical music concerts by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.


Moravec - Twelfth Night Recital
15%off £17.21 (until Dec 7)

Katerina Englichová - harp
15%0ff £10.83 (until Dec 7)

  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo
  • Stellar debut<br>piano recital
  • Clarinet transcriptions Jonathan Cohler
  • Jonathan Cohler & Claremont Trio
  • French clarinet masterpieces
  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo

Sibelius Symphonies Maazel
4CDs + Blu-ray audio
Special Price £36.75

RVW A Sea Symphony - Elder

Shostakovich Symphony 10 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem

Dvorak Opera Premiere

Grieg, Mendelssohn sonatas




Would you like a hyperlinked weekly summary of the CDs we have reviewed?

Click for further details

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline

Franz LISZT (1811-1886)
Symphonic Poems - Volume 5
Eine Symphonie zu Dantes Divina Commedia (1856) [42:06]
Deux Légendes (1863) [19:10]
Gillian Keith (soprano)
Ladies’ Voices of the City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus
BBC Philharmonic/Gianandrea Noseda
rec. New Broadcasting House, Manchester, September-October 2008. DDD
CHANDOS CHAN10524 [61:29]
Experience Classicsonline

Liszt’s orchestral works don’t often get a fair hearing. Criticised then, as now, for being structurally weak and inept or overblown in their orchestration, they have sunk into relative obscurity compared to his more celebrated piano works. This latest in a series of discs devoted to Liszt’s symphonic poems therefore provides a good opportunity to reassess the composer’s orchestral output, although in the final analysis, the jury is still out.

The main attraction, occupying two-thirds of the disc, is Liszt’s Dante Symphony - or A Symphony on Dante’s Divine Comedy to give it its full title. Conceived as early as the 1830s, the symphony was finally completed in 1856 and dedicated to his future son-in-law and musical adviser on the project, Richard Wagner.

The BBC Philharmonic and Gianandrea Noseda make sterling work of what is a rather uneven work. The sound quality is superb throughout, with crystal clear acoustics and the orchestra placed forward enough to pick out individual aspects of Liszt’s orchestration.

The first movement of the symphony depicts the torments of Dante’s Inferno, focusing in the central section on the fate of the adulterous lovers Paolo and Francesca da Rimini. The parallels with Tchaikovsky’s Francesca da Rimini of 1876 are clear: lugubrious brass and woodwind, swirling chromaticism depicting the descent to hell, and yearning strings and harp to represent the lovers. The BBC Philharmonic paint a detailed picture, with only the brass sounding a little too distant and subdued.

The second movement (Purgatorio) demonstrates how Liszt often came unstuck over matters of form. The melodic themes for most of the movement are plain and overstretched, although in describing the long wait for heaven, this was perhaps Liszt’s intention. For the listener, though, the central section (tracks 6 and 7) sags heavily until the final sung Magnificat. This section - predicting the rise of the spirit towards heaven - is genuinely uplifting, and sung beautifully by female members of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra with the briefest of solos from soprano Gillian Keith. There are even touches of Berlioz here - whose Requiem and Te Deum were composed in 1837 and 1849 - from the future Abbé of Weimar.

The Two Legends at the end of the disc are clearly time fillers, although not very satisfactory ones. St Francis of Assisi: The Sermon to the Birds and St Francis of Paola Walking on the Waves are familiar works for solo piano, and were also orchestrated (but not published) in 1863. The first legend uses plenty of flute and woodwind in rather obvious imitation of birds. Key changes and alternating string parts indicate that the piece would probably sound a lot more interesting on piano only. The second legend is more satisfying and calls on larger forces, including horns and trombones. It moves as an extended crescendo towards a rousing march (presumably representing St Frances walking on the waves). Although both pieces are interesting as a footnotes to Liszt’s orchestral output, they are instantly forgettable.

John-Pierre Joyce


Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Prima voce
Red Priest
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


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.