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: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline

Mark GREY (b. 1967)
Enemy Slayer – A Navajo Oratorio (2007) [68:43]
Scott Hendricks (baritone)
Phoenix Symphony Chorus/Gregory Gentry
Phoenix Symphony Orchestra/Michael Christie
rec. live 7, 9 February 2008, Symphony Hall, Phoenix, Arizona USA (world première) DDD
NAXOS 8.559604 [68:43] 
Experience Classicsonline

I have a more than musical reason for taking an interest in this work, and in music of a Native American origin. My daughter is descended, through her mother’s family, from the Cherokee Nation. Their branch of the Nation no longer exists, and thus their way of life is lost to us. For these reasons
I welcome any work of art which celebrates the Native American or is conceived by a Native American. Here was a chance for Naxos to give us a recording of Louis Ballard’s magnificent Suite for orchestra, Incident at Wounded Knee (1974). It deserves a wider audience than it has so far achieved. But I digress. 

Enemy Slayer is the first oratorio based on the creation story of the Navajo. The story concerns the twins Monster Slayer and Child Born for Water who (as Marley Shebala’s notes tell us) went to war against the monsters who threatened their people. After destroying all the monsters the twins returned home but started having nightmares, smelling the blood of the monsters and screaming in horror. They wanted to be alone, lost their appetites, became depressed, angry, violent, and thought of suicide. Today we would say that they were suffering post–traumatic stress disorder. Thus the Navajo people created the Anaa’jí (Enemy Way), one of the most sacred of the Navajo ceremonies and one which is still in use to cleanse and heal warriors returning from today’s wars. 

Composer Grey, his librettist Laura Tohe (an award winning Navajo poet) and photographer Deborah O’Grady said that they wanted this work to be a bridge between the Navajo and non–Navajo worlds. To this end Tohe’s libretto is based on the idea of the Anaa’jí – to quote it would be sacrilegious – and, according to the notes (on which I have drawn very closely at times), she gave shape to Grey’s visionary concept. In Enemy Slayer we follow the trials and tribulations of Seeker, a man suffering battle fatigue. He goes through the vicissitudes suffered by the twins, and sings of his feelings; the chorus, variously representing his parents, grandparents, ancestors and the Holy Ones respond to his dilemma. 

When he wrote the work Grey was composer in residence for the Phoenix Symphony and the organisation obviously wanted to give their man the best they could offer for what could possibly be his magnum opus. So what did Grey deliver? This almost 70 minute oratorio is written in a very conventional voice, there’s nothing here which would scare the horses, and there’s no real high point which stands head and shoulders above the rest. There are also some very obvious and embarrassingly twee sections, such as the sound of battle at the end of the third (of five) sections. The material is generally unmemorable, and far too slight to sustain 70 minutes of music, and although the work has pretensions to be Epic, it simply fails to satisfy in such a way. Most importantly, there is no feeling of Native Americana! Only the words give it the cachet of being married to the great Navajo tradition. The scoring is brilliant, and well thought out. It’s very colourful and direct – the language is easy on the ear – but that simply isn’t enough for the concept. 

I know that composer and librettist wrote this piece with the best of intentions, but good intentions aren’t enough when creating a work of art which is meant to be as all-consuming as the subject matter so obviously is. With such a small-scale musical outlook, a work of half the duration would have been better but the stumbling block would always be the overly conventional idiom and musical outlook. A story of this magnitude needs, nay craves, a big and sturdy voice to do it justice. Just think of what Charles Ives or Henry Brant might have made of it. What we have here is just so much note-spinning without much substance. Nowhere do I find this music to be relevant to, nor is it worthy of, the subject matter. I am saddened to find this work a failure in purely musical terms for I expected much. 

A big stumbling block in the performance is the baritone Scott Hendricks who employs a very wide vibrato, which verges on uncontrolled wobble. Quite often I was unsure as to what note he was singing, and his loud declamations quickly grate on the ear. Listen to him at 9:30 in the final section – the line is badly distorted by his vibrato and he makes a very unpleasant sound. Not the kind of singing I welcome in the concert hall, let alone when listening to something at home. Apart from the soloist the performance seems totally committed and the recording is excellent, but there isn’t anything in this music which engages me.

Bob Briggs

Further material about this work can be found at:



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.