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


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

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

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews



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


CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline


William ALWYN (1905-1985)
String Quartet No.1 in d minor (1953) [23:07]
String Quartet No.2 ‘Spring Waters’ (1975) [20:24]
String Quartet No.3 (1984) [22:47]
Novelette (1938/9) [2:35]
Maggini Quartet (Lorraine McAslan, David Angel (violins); Martin Outram (viola); Michal Kaznowski (cello))
rec. Potton Hall, Westleton, Suffolk, UK, 9-11 December, 2007. DDD.
NAXOS 8.570560 [68:53]
Experience Classicsonline

This new recording continues the Maggini Quartet’s sterling services to 20th-century English music – I recommend their recording of the Vaughan Williams Quartets, for example, as wholeheartedly as did my Musicweb colleagues in 2001 (8.555300 – see review).   It also continues Naxos’s commitment to the music of William Alwyn, a composer whose qualities have unfortunately been overshadowed by his better-known contemporaries.
Alwyn’s first numbered quartet dates from 1953, though it had been preceded by several earlier experiments.  It’s the most approachable of the three; the blurb promises echoes of Dvořák, Janáček and Smetana, and these are certainly to be found, though, as the same blurb acknowledges, this is a thoroughly original work.  The slow movement is particularly attractive and it benefits here from a marginally slower tempo than on the Quartet of London’s version (see below).
There’s no need for those averse to atonality to have any fear in approaching this music.  In the early 1950s, with the lifting of post-war rationing, the Festival of Britain and the Coronation, it was again possible to feel optimistic and this mood is reflected in the music.  If you’ve already made the acquaintance of Alwyn’s first three symphonies and enjoyed them, you should like what you hear in this quartet.
If you don't yet know the symphonies, I'd make their acquaintance first, in Naxos's own recordings or those on Lyrita and Chandos.  David Lloyd-Jones offers accounts of Nos. 1 and 3 (Naxos 8.557648), Nos. 2 and 5 (8.557647 with the Harp Concerto Lyra Angelica) and No.4 (8.557649 with Sinfonietta – a Bargain of the Month; see review) which I haven’t heard but which have been generally praised.  My own favourites are Alwyn’s own recordings on Lyrita (1 and 4 on SRCD.227 – see review; 2, 3 and 5 on SRCD.228 – see review).  I’ve owned the former ever since I bought it on impulse in the only shop which then supplied Lyrita recordings and I recommended the eMusic download of the latter in my December 2008 Download Roundup.
Chandos also have a fine set of Richard Hickox recordings of Alwyn’s orchestral music, with all five symphonies and the Sinfonietta on CHAN9429 (3 CDs) or separately, coupled with the Elizabethan Dances, Piano Concertos and Violin Concerto.  I hope to explore at least some of these Hickox/Alwyn recordings in forthcoming instalments of my Download Roundup.
The Second Quartet of 1975 is a much more troubled work – the Spring Waters of the title are troubled waters.  It’s very tempting to see the music as indicative of a 70-year-old undergoing a late mid-life crisis, though Alwyn insisted that this was an abstract composition – but, then, I find the denial of Tolkien and Vaughan Williams of the influence of World War II on their works hard to reconcile with what I see and hear.
It may take you a while to come to terms with this quartet, as it did me – the experience was somewhat akin to my first encounter with the late Beethoven quartets, with the Budapest Quartet’s CBS stereo remake of Op.127.  The playing of the Maggini Quartets is far less steely than that CBS recording, but the music is equally elusive the first time round.  Second time around, I found that I connected with the idiom more readily.
These first two quartets were recorded by the Quartet of London in 1984, a Chandos recording (CHAN9219 – see review) still available as an mp3 or lossless download from – the CD appears to have been deleted.  Though the composer himself was present at the recording sessions and the cover illustration is a painting by Alwyn himself, there is little reason to prefer those performances to those of the Magginis – and, at 45 minutes, the recording is poor value by comparison with this Naxos version.  With the exception of the slow movement of the first quartet which, I felt, benefits from the marginally slower version of the Magginis (4:07 against 3:57) and the finale of the second (just one second difference), the Chandos performances are consistently slightly slower than these new versions.
It was during attendance at the Chandos recording sessions that Alwyn decided upon his final quartet, a much quieter and more elegiac work, though, again, it took me two hearings to engage with it.  The Quartet of London subsequently recorded this quartet, too, coupled with the Rhapsody of 1938 and the String Trio (CHAN8440, mp3 or lossless download only; again, rather short value at 49 minutes – see review).  The tempi on the new Maggini version are, again, marginally faster than those on the Chandos disc but I never felt that this was to the music’s disadvantage.
The finale of the third quartet would have made a fitting conclusion to the CD but Naxos’s decision to append the approachable, but far from bland, Novelette of 1938/9, offers a better ending.
With sympathetic performances throughout, good recording, helpful notes and, as usual, a thoroughly appropriate cover picture, this version of the quartets is well worth investigating – but do try the symphonies first.
Brian Wilson

see also review by John France



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

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

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

June 2022

Beethoven Sonatas 29, 32

Orchestral Works

String Quartets Vol 1


Cantatas and Organ Works

Complete Songs

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Simone Dinnerstein piano




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.