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



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


John TAVENER (b.1944)
CD 1
Angels (1985) [7:31]
Annunciation (1992) [5:26]
The Lament of the Mother of God (1988) [15:38]
Thunder Entered Her (1990) [17:12]
Hymns of Paradise (1993) [10:53]
God is With Us (A Christmas Proclamation) (1987) [5:58]
CD 2
The Last Sleep of the Virgin (1991) [24:37]

Arvo PÄRT (b.1935)
Summa (1978 arr 1991) [
Fratres (1977 arr 1989) [11:53]
The Hidden Treasure (1989) [31:02]
David Dunnett (organ), Winchester Cathedral Choir, David Hill (CD 1), Iain Simcock (hand bells), Chilingirian Quartet (Levon Chilingirian – Charles Sewart (violins), Simon Rowland–Jones (viola), Philip de Groote (cello)) (CD 2)
rec. January 1994, Winchester Cathedral (CD 1), July 1993, All Saints Church, Petersham (CD 2)
VIRGIN CLASSICS 6932332 [62:40 + 72:12] 


Experience Classicsonline

What are we to make of John Tavener? Born in Wembley,
London, he is a direct descendant of the 16th century composer John Taverner. He attended Highgate School where a fellow pupil was composer John Rutter. From there he studied at the Royal Academy of Music, where his tutors included Sir Lennox Berkeley. He achieved prominence when his choral work The Whale was given at the first concert of the newly formed London Sinfonietta, and later at the Proms, following up this success with the Celtic Requiem. Both these works were recorded on the Beatles’ Apple label. In 1977, he joined the Orthodox Church and Orthodox theology and liturgical traditions became a major influence on his work. He achieved even greater fame when his work for cello and strings The Protecting Veil was premiered at the Proms in 1987 and worldwide adulation when his a cappella choral work Song for Athene was performed at the funeral of Princess Diana. He was knighted for his services to music in the Millenium Honours List. 

So I return to my opening statement. What are we to make of John Tavener? He’s made a special niche for himself in writing works which reflect the Orthodox faith but does this lead to his creating some great music? On the first CD here, devoted entirely to choral works, with and without organ, the three smaller pieces are marvellous creations. Angels contains some spectacular organ writing, exactly right for the text. This is a sparkling piece. Annunciation is a declamation and God is With Us contains one of the most marvelous musical shocks I know! These three pieces are absolutely essential Tavener.

It’s the longer pieces I have problems with. The Lament of the Mother of God and Thunder Entered Her both play for a little over a quarter of an hour and they outstay their welcome. They are both full of the usual Tavener fingerprints, and that’s what annoys me about them and about so much of Tavener’s work – there is no progression. It’s the same language, the same voice, the same gestures almost every time. In fact so similar are the pieces that as I listened I missed the break between the Lament and Thunder and thought that I was listening to the same work. This isn’t how it should be. You’d never make such a mistake with Haydn, Beethoven or Edmund Rubbra. The performances are as dedicated as one could wish for and the sound is excellent with a good feel of Winchester Cathedral, where it was recorded. 

The second CD is devoted to music for string quartet. The first of Tavener’s quartets recorded here includes a part for handbells, and contains an oddity. The Last Sleep of the Virgin is supposed to be played on the verge of audibility, so the booklet tells us to play it at “barely audible level”. I find this interesting. Why write a piece of music which you want people to strain to hear? I once attended a performance of the work in a large Church and the Quartet was out of sight, somewhere in the distance, but the handbells, and their player, were on stage in full view of the public. What was the point? There’s some good music here, why should we not be allowed to hear it? Turn up your volume control and hear this piece, it is rather attractive. The Hidden Treasure has some real meat on it, and it even has climaxes! But, ultimately, it’s really just more of the same. 

The Pärt fillers are in the same vein of slow, lyrical, chanting quietude. 

Many years ago I read a comment in a music reference book which said that the delightful Praeludium, for small orchestra, by Armas Järnefelt appealed to simple-minded music-lovers – so that puts me firmly in my place! . Here, part of me wants to be cynical and make a similar kind of comment, but, despite the fact that I find that a little Tavener goes a long way, and the continual Orthodoxy within his music drives me crazy after a short time, I still find this music compelling in a strange kind of way! 

I think of Tavener as a kind of musical Harry Potter. If that book has got children reading - and it is to be hoped that it has made them want to read other things - perhaps Tavener might get some listening to contemporary classical music. Those people need to go on to investigate others, starting with John Adams and the like, and gradually finding their way back to Haydn and Mozart. We can but hope. 

This two disk set is in very good sound, and if this is what you want you’ll love it.

Bob Briggs



















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.