MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

CD: Crotchet AmazonUK AmazonUS


Charles AVISON (1709-1770)
CD1 [47:21]
Six Sonatas for two violins and a bass, Op. 1 (c.1737): No. 1 in chromatic Dorian mode [8:35]; No. 2 in G minor [10:23]; No. 3 in G minor [6:29]; No. 4 in Dorian mode [8:15]; No. 5 in E minor [6:32]; No. 6 in D major [6:20]
CD2 [49:48]
Six Sonatas for harpsichord, with accompaniments for two violins and a violoncello, Op. 8 (1764): No. 1 in A major [8:20]; No. 2 in C major [9:06]; No. 3 in D major [8:33]; No. 4 in B flat major [7:28]; No. 5 in G minor [8:10]; No. 6 in G major [7:32]
The Avison Ensemble (Robert Howarth (harpsichord/chest organ); Pavlo Beznosiuk (violin); Caroline Balding (violin); Richard Tunnicliffe (cello))
rec. Paxton House, Berwick upon Tweed, 11-14 December 2005. DDD.
2 CDs for price of one
Divine Art dda21214 [47:21 + 49:48]
Experience Classicsonline


The Avison Ensemble continue to do proud the composer whose name they bear. Having recorded his Opp. 3 and 4 (Naxos 8.557905-6 – see review) and Op.6 Concertos (Naxos 8.557553-4 – see Jonathan Woolf’s review and Johan van Veen’s review), Concerti after Geminiani (Divine Art DDA21210 – see review), the Op.9 and Op.10 Concerti Grossi (DDA21211) and his Concerti Grossi after D Scarlatti (DDA21213), they now turn their attention to the Op.1 Trio Sonatas and the Op.8 Keyboard Sonatas with accompaniments. I’m on record as offering high praise to DDA21211 – see review – and DDA21213 – see review – and Jonathan Woolf was also lavish in his praise for DDA21213 – see review.

You’ll also find an appreciation of their performances of the cello concertos of Avison’s contemporary, John Garth (DDA25059) in my October, 2008, Download Roundup. All these Divine Art 2-CD sets are currently offered as 2-for-1 and are available as very acceptable 320k mp3 downloads from for £4.99 per CD. The two Naxos sets are available as downloads from, also at 320k, for £9.98 per 2-CD set, and from other download sites at varying bit-rates. I can vouch personally for the quality of the Garth download from theclassicalshop and of the Op.6 Concertos from classicsonline – in both cases, the downloads come with the CD booklet as a pdf document.

The works on the new set may not reach quite the heights of the Concertos after Geminiani and Scarlatti – go for those two sets first – but they are by no means negligible: unfailingly tuneful and well-constructed. The Op.1 pieces may well have had their origin as exercises when Avison was being tutored by Geminiani; if so, they are the work of a very competent and inspired pupil, by no means a slavish imitator of his mentor. Even when he adapted the keyboard works of Geminiani and Scarlatti, Avison did much more than merely orchestrate their music, just as Geminiani had done in orchestrating the music of his own mentor, Corelli.

The Op.1 Sonatas are advertised on their title page (reproduced in the well-documented Divine Art booklet) as ‘for two violins and a bass’. This makes them, in effect, Trio Sonatas in the manner of Corelli – indeed, they all follow the four-movement pattern of Corelli’s Sonate da chiesa, slow-fast-slow-fast, though it is unlikely that they were intended for church performance. The ‘bass’ is performed here on the cello and chest organ, making for a very full sound. I’m on record as preferring the cleaner sound of violin and harpsichord, without cello, in Corelli’s Op.5 Sonatas (Naxos 8.557799 – see review) but the fuller sound works well in Avison’s Op.1, making the music sound much closer to the Concerti Grossi on the Ensemble’s other recordings.

The Op.1 Sonatas are in a form transmitted from Corelli via Geminiani. By the date of the Op.8 Sonatas, however, the music of Rameau was becoming influential in England and Avison specifically mentions ‘Scarlatti, Rameau and Carlo-Bach’ (i.e. CPE Bach) alongside Geminiani in his ‘Advertisement’ for the set. The notes in the booklet very reasonably speculate that Avison knew Rameau’s Pièces de clavecin en concerts: he certainly praises the French composer for his ‘spirited Science’. Once again, however, whatever the degree of Rameau’s influence, Avison is no slavish imitator. I hear the influence of Scarlatti and, perhaps, even a foretaste of Boccherini in Sonata No.3 (trs.6-7).

The title page of Op.8 (again, reproduced in the booklet) described the works as ‘for the harpsichord with accompanyments for two violins and a violoncello’ and he specified that the string parts ‘being intended for Assistants only ... ought no where to overpower the Harpsichord.’ This brings me to my one reservation concerning the new recording. Whatever Avison’s intentions – reinforced by the fact that the harpsichord part is capable of being performed alone – the ‘Assistant’ strings do sometimes prove intrusive on the recording. This may well be an inherent problem in the music itself rather than one to be laid at the door of the performers or the engineers. Without suggesting that multi-miking or other trickery should have been employed, I should have thought it possible for the harpsichord part to be brought out more fully on a recording.

It’s a minor criticism and it didn’t spoil my enjoyment unduly. Otherwise I have nothing but praise for everything on these CDs. Music, performance and recording – preferably with a slight volume reduction from your normal setting – all contribute to a most enjoyable experience and the booklet is a model of its kind. As on the earlier recordings, there are no rough edges to the sound of the period instruments employed; this is early music without tears. I look forward now to the appearance of the Op.5 and Op.7 sonatas.
Brian Wilson


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos 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

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




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

Past 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.