One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,928 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for

3 for 2 Offer

All Forgotten Records Reviews


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

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets
All Foghorn Reviews

Puertas de Madrid
All EMEC reviews
All EMEC reviews

All Reference Recordings

Eugène Ysaÿe: Violin Discoveries
All Divine Art Reviews

Debussy Complete Preludes



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
Ph. 020 8418 0616



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

All Chandos reviews

All Hyperion reviews

All Foghorn reviews

All Troubadisc reviews

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

All Eloquence reviews

All Lyrita Reviews


Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month


Donizetti - Le Convenienze ed Inconvenienze Teatrali

Chamber Symphonies 2 & 4

French Cello Concertos






CD: Another Timbre

Michael PISARO (b.1961)
‘Reader, listen: harmony series no.10’ (2004) [6:32]
Based on "The Substantive" by William Bronk (violin and contrabass)
Activation (improvisation) [10:38]
John CAGE (1912-1992)
‘Four 6 ’ (1992) [30:05]
Michael PISARO
‘La voix qui dit; Harmony series no. 8d’ [4:50]
Based on "La Voix qui Dit" by Samuel Beckett (violin and bass clarinet)
Decentring (improvisation) [13:15]
Michael PISARO
‘Flux: harmony series, no.8a’ [3:12]
Based on "Flux" by Samuel Beckett (contrabass and electronics)
Tom Chant (saxophones & bass clarinet)
Angharad Davies (violin & objects)
Benedict Drew (electronics & objects)
John Edwards (double bass)
rec. 4 January 2009, St James’ Church, Friern Barnet, North London.
Experience Classicsonline

I think how you respond to this disc will depend on what mood you are in. If you are in the mood for some free improvisation, and the timeless span of one of John Cage’s late number pieces, then you will find some interesting material in this recording.

My anticipatory frame of mind was however dampened from the start by the work of Michael Pisaro. I know it’s not good form to make negative comments on another composer’s work, and I have read that Mr. Pisaro is much acclaimed and is doing very well for himself, but on the strength of this disc I shall avoid spending money on any concert tickets. The first two of the pieces here are empty spaces filled with what sound like more or less random, more or less sustained notes. The brief booklet text confirms this suspicion: “The number of players is usually specified, but instrumentation is left loose... Similarly, particular notes are not specified, though there may be indications for general duration, amplitude and register.” I’m up for anything - minimal, improvised, free instrumentation, zen silences and pure sound, but this is something I’d thought we might have grown out of by now. Flux has a few breathy electronic noises which arouse marginal interest, much as one might look upwards on hearing a blowtorch at work on a tar roof, or how a hot air balloon stuck outside your 20th floor window might wake you on a windless Sunday morning, but otherwise the sustained notes of these pieces do nothing whatsoever for me. The best part is being able to hear some traffic noise in the distance between puffs and scrapes. I am sure the musician’s commitment is of the highest level and I am sure they will believe I am missing the point, but my opinion is that everyone’s time is being wasted. Pisaro’s ‘Harmony Series’ claim to be translations of poetry into music, but while the composer might seem to need this crutch, the poetry most certainly doesn’t need this composer.

The performers on this recording clearly have an affinity, and improvise well. The curse of painful electronic sine-waves and high pitched scraping unfortunately crops up to annoy the headphone listener in the eponymous Decentring, but the sound of spontaneous invention in the improvisations is always one which intrigues, albeit more as a live sport than for repeated listening.

John Cage’s Four 6 is dedicated to Pauline Oliveros to celebrate her sixtieth birthday and for Joan La Barbara, William Winant and Leonard Stein who joined Cage for the premiere performance. The score’s instruction is akin to many of the other number pieces: “The performers choose twelve different sounds each, with fixed amplitude, overtone structure etc., and play within the flexible time brackets.” These specifications might lead you to expect something as dubious as Pisaro’s pieces, but Cage was an old master in this field and knew how to manage freedom against uncompromising demands and a strict framework. Silence is or should be an important factor, and the layering of sounds results in a kind of antique counterpoint transposed onto the ‘modern’ concepts of sound as an absolute, and the connectivity of the musicians to this concept - the idea of bringing the sounds of a chaotic world into the controlled environment of a concert or recording. My only problem with this particular recording is with some of the sound palette selected. I retain an annoyance with those wretched high pitched electronic whines, the irritation with which may mean nothing more than that me and my cat are getting too old for this kind of thing. I also however maintain that, while there are some nice nuances on this recording, there is also a missed opportunity. We’ve done the scraped strings, multiphonics, scratchy or rumbly electronics and singing bowls to death already in this field, and I would be really intrigued to hear some new directions in terms of sound - particularly for Cage’s number pieces, since they offer such a rich opportunity for experimentation within a disciplined framework.

I have no doubts in the integrity of the musicians on this well recorded disc, and wish them well. The kind of music here is not one with universal appeal, though I would be the first to exhort people to broaden their horizons and take a good look at improvised music. I have done a certain amount of working in this field, enjoy it greatly and take it very seriously, and have the greatest of respect for the musicians and other creative people who pioneer fascinating work in all kinds of improvisational idiom. Creating an atmosphere with a few sparse notes is a valid means of expression, but I am afraid my patience is tested to the limits by certain aspects of this release. On the whole, this is an interesting programme, though unfortunately lumbered with the heavy pretensions of the ‘Harmony series’, a misnomer if ever there was one.

Dominy Clements


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.