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

in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati







Crotchet  AmazonUK  AmazonUS


Ralph VAUGHAN WILLIAMS (1872-1958)
Symphony No. 4 in F minor (1933) [31:26]
Jean SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Symphony No. 4 in A minor (1910) [35:18]
BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sir Malcolm Sargent
rec. Royal Albert Hall, 16 August 1963 (RVW); 2 September 1965. Stereo. ADD
BBC LEGENDS BBCL42372 [67:43]
Experience Classicsonline

Here are two individualistic, angry or brooding fourth symphonies. They are conducted by Malcolm Sargent whose reputation glowed brightly through his association with the Promenade concerts and the great choral festivals of the 1940s and 1950. For a long while he was venerated and rather like Kathleen Ferrier was counted among the saintly Elect - beyond criticism. However his following and his popularity faded in the wake of his death. Extra-musical factors also played their part in disenchantment including his ruthlessly dry-eyed approach to orchestral musicians. In this he was not alone.
In the present disc we get a chance to reassess Sargent in two Proms performances preserved in broadcast stereo. Itís very much to his credit. We hear him in symphonies each of which represented a crashing gear-change for their composers. Sibelius 4 can still seem a difficult pill to swallow. Its emotional distancing, cold and even shivering dissonance are such a contrast with the first two symphonies and even with the benevolent classical pantheism of the Third. As for the Vaughan Williams one has only to compare it with its neighbours: the lamenting beauty of The Pastoral with its trumpets echoing across devastated battlefields and the seraphic Bunyanesque paragraphs of the Fifth Symphony.
The RVW Fourth is given as furious a first movement as you are likely to have heard - white hot goaded and driven in the manner of† the composer's famous 1930s recording with the same orchestra. There is repose but where the score indicates extremes of speed Sargent applies them with a will. I confess that it is exhilarating if not quite as white hot as the Mitropoulos version. As for Sargentís Sibelius he recorded the Second and Fifth Symphonies, Pohjola's Daughter and other popular shorter pieces variously with the BBCSO and the Vienna PO for EMI Classics. They are or were available on an EMI Seraphim double. His Fourth is, by contrast with the RVW4, a slowly savoured performance which in the first movement brings out the soulful side of the music. In fact this memorably different approach pays dividends when the grander climaxes come. It is interesting to hear Sargent's way with this music taken down within months of Karajan's classic commercial recording for DG. Let's not forget that Sibelius was during the 1960s still something of an outrť taste and there must still have been doubts whether fashion was turning in his favour. There's a lot of audience noise, bronchial and fidgeting, but it's an integral part of the atmosphere which you can cut with a knife in this recording. This is more than enough compensation for the occasional slip such as the muffed entry by the horn at 2.10 in the finale of Sibelius 4 and some sour notes from the brass later in the movement.
Perhaps we can now hope for archive recordings of Sargentís versions of Martinů's Epic of Gilgamesh, Alwyn's Lyra Angelica and RVWís Ninth Symphony to be issued. I fervently hope so. An aside but having mentioned Martinů I wonder whether anyone has recoverable recordings of Tausky's BBC 1950s studio cycle of Martinů symphonies.
The technical quality for these two recordings is stunning - a tribute to the BBC engineers of those days. It's the Proms so you must however get used to coughs and shuffling. In overwhelming compensation you experience all the dangerous intensity of a live event.
Rob Barnett


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

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
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
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.