One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

Some items
to consider

Yes we are selling
Acte Prealable again!
£11 post-free

we also sell Skarbo

and Oboe Classics


with Eggebrecht we get all the excitement we can handle

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

Vraiment magnifique!

Quite splendid

Winning performances

Mahler Symphony 8
a magnificent disc

a huge talent

A wonderful disc

Weinberg Symphonies 2 & 21
A handsome tribute!

Roth’s finest Mahler yet

Mahler 9 Blomstedt
Distinguished performance



We are currently offering in excess of 51,800 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

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
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


CD: Crotchet AmazonUK AmazonUS

Alfred Deller - portrait d’une voix
Written by Jean-Claude Biette; directed by Benoît Jacquot
Booklet in French, English and German; subtitles in French and English; German and Spanish voice-overs; menu in French, English and (sometimes) German
Format 4/3 aspect ratio. Mono. Colour. NTSC (All Regions)
An INA documentary, first broadcast on 2 February 1976; re-mastered 2008
HARMONIA MUNDI HMD9909018 [DVD: 65:00 + CD: 75:56]
Experience Classicsonline

This DVD, produced in France and manufactured in Italy, is a remarkable document, comprising rehearsals, performances and, best of all, rarely-seen personal interviews with the great English counter-tenor, Alfred Deller. 

I met Alfred only twice and that briefly, but sufficient to establish my conviction that the really great artists are essentially humble, and - one might add - thoroughly nice people, unaffected by fame. Further encounters over the years with other artists have served only to support this belief! This is certainly the impression of Deller that one gets from this programme.

Technically the film is acceptable though not outstanding. It is a French production from 1975, but mostly in English since it shows English musicians speaking and singing - here one has French subtitles - the relatively brief French commentary has English subtitles. It has the air of a home video shot by someone who is not very good at keeping the camera steady. The subtitles wobble too, and shimmer in a peculiar manner. Continuity is sometimes rather self-conscious, and two intervals during which for several seconds we gaze for no particular reason at a green field and distant trees suggest moments of repose before and after the intended insertion of a commercial break. Presumably this programme was originally shown on French television, and one has to admit it has in its occasional awkwardness a certain Gallic charm!

But none of this really matters: it is wonderful to have so much of Deller speaking informally in Stour Festival country - at Barton Cottage, his home near Ashford in the Weald of Kent, outside Boughton Aluph church, where he is buried, and at Olantigh House, grandest of the Stour Festival locations. Musical inserts include rehearsals and performances with Alfred’s son Mark, the lutenist Robert Spencer, and the members of the Deller Consort - Honor Sheppard, Paul Elliott, Neil Jenkins and the peerless Maurice Bevan.

The sequence is broadly chronological, from Deller’s days as a choirboy at his local church, to the discovery that he could after puberty continue to sing in the same way but with an added masculine resonance; joining the Canterbury Cathedral choir and being heard by Michael Tippett, for whom, famously, ‘the centuries rolled back’; moving to St Paul’s Cathedral in London; forming the Deller Consort. He had to cope with the shock his voice gave to the unsuspecting listener, but reminds us that all men - be they tenors, baritones or basses - have a head register, a pharyngeal voice; most of them choose not to use it, but they still have it.

But it is the musical qualities that shine through: the recognition of words as the basis of a performance (here he cites Purcell as a composer ‘having a peculiar Genius to express the Energy of English Words, whereby he mov’d the Passions of all his Auditors’, as Henry Playford commented in 1698). Within the basic rhythm, the singer must seize the possibilities offered by the rise and fall and the nuances of the language, depending on the artistry of the individual. Call them ‘Dellerisms’ if you like, but they are fundamental to his passion for the music. To me, the nobility of the voice cannot be gainsaid.

‘Come what may, this is the way I had to go; this is the only way, musically, that I could satisfactorily express what was inside. I felt compelled to do this. … The music we sing, although it was written four hundred years ago, expresses emotions that are timeless, in music worthy of a human being … [which] gets to the very heart of emotion. And this quality speaks across the centuries to a sensitive person. It’s not important that they have little or no knowledge of the thing - it’s the musical experience to which they respond. … This applies to music and to all great art: there is the possibility of being moved, and the possibility of deep appreciation at every level of mental approach.’

This is a two-disc set, one being the DVD (lasting one hour) and the other a ‘bonus’ audio CD (76') with further performances (20 tracks) featuring such regular collaborators as Desmond Dupré (lute) and Robert Elliott (harpsichord), and David Munrow and William Christie among the others. The music encompasses the English lute song composers (including nine Shakespeare settings), Henry Purcell, and the Italians Caccini and Saracini. The longest piece, Alessandro Scarlatti’s Infirmata vulnerata, with the violinists Clarence Myerscough and Irvine Arditti, ends the disc.

Garry Humphreys 



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.