One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


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

All HDTT reviews

Clarissa Bevilacqua plays
Augusta Read Thomas

all Nimbus reviews

Brahms Dvorak
Brahms 2 Dvorak 7
all tudor 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
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   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

Sir William HERSCHEL (1738-1822)
Symphony No.14 in D major (1762) [11:20]
Symphony No.8 in C minor (1761) [11:41]
Symphony No.2 in D major (1760) [9:33]
Symphony No.12 in D major (1761) [11:23]
Symphony No. 17 in C major (1762) [11:49]
Symphony No. 13 in D major (1762) [12:05]
London Mozart Players/Matthias Bamert
rec. 29-30 April 2002, All Saint’s Church, Tooting. DDD.
CHANDOS CHAN10048 [68:23]
Experience Classicsonline

Music and the stars have long - since at least the time of Pythagoras - been intellectual bedfellows. The lengthy tradition of such thinking is amply, and very valuably, illustrated in a book such as Joscelyn Goodwin’s The Harmony of the Spheres: A Sourcebook of the Pythagorean Tradition in Music (1993). One might cite as examples the Mysterium Cosmographicum (1596) and Harmonices Mundi (1691) of Johannes Kepler or the writings of the Florentine Neoplatonist Marsilio Ficino - supplemented, perhaps, by a hearing of the fascinating Secrets of the Heavens (Riverrun RV RCD53) which features words by Ficino and music by Bartolommeo Tromboncino, Alexander Agricola and others. Or, indeed, one might think of compositions as varied as Holst’s Planets and Cage’s Atlas Eclipticalis, Mary Howe’s Stars and Gorecki’s Symphony No. 2 (Copernican), Per Norgard’s Luna or Hovhaness’s Star Dawn. Kepler’s thought directly shapes Hindemith’s Harmony of the World and astronomical data feeds into a series of works by David Bedford, such as Great Equatorial and Star Clusters, Nebulae and Places in Devon - the list could, no doubt, be greatly extended.

Given such traditions it ought not to come as a surprise that a man we know of primarily as an astronomer, as discover of Uranus and of infrared radiation, should, as a youth, have been a composer of some talent. The future Court Astronomer and President of the Astronomical Society was born in Hanover, the son of an oboist in the Hanoverian foot-guards. At fourteen William, too, became a member of the band of the guards. Military defeats led him to make his way to England where he initially earned his living as a music copyist in London and then took charge of the band of the Durham militia - the beginning of a successful career as a teacher and performer in the North of England. It was in the late 1750s that he began to compose and these symphonies are early works. He worked as a church organist in Halifax and then in Bath - where he quarrelled with Thomas Linley the elder. His study of the mathematical basis of harmony led him into the wider study of mathematics and that, in turn, led to an interest in astronomy (Herschel Museum of Astronomy). This amateur interest in astronomy developed alongside - and gradually overtook - his professional life as a musician. By the mid 1770s astronomy had become his dominant concern and livelihood.

His surviving compositions - in addition to twenty-four symphonies - include concertos for violin, viola and oboe and a number of pieces for organ as well as songs, psalm and anthem settings and six ‘Sonatas for the Harpsichord with Violin and Cello Obbligato’. The manuscripts of the six symphonies recorded here provide details (in Herschel’s own hand) of the place and date of composition. Thus No. 12 is marked “Pontefract in Yorkshire Decemb. 1st 1761” and No. 14 carries the words “Leeds aprill the 14th 1762”.

The music of these three-movement symphonies is not, perhaps, remarkable - save in who its composer was - and certainly isn’t especially individual. But it is thoroughly competent and well made; anyone who enjoys the work of, say, J.C. Bach will surely find things to enjoy here. Indeed, there are some touches in the slow movements that make one think of C.P.E. Bach and the music of empfindsamkeit. On the whole these symphonies are of more interest for what they do harmonically and rhythmically than for their relatively unexciting melodic invention.

There is a nice circularity in the fact that after Herschel had given up composing, his astronomical work inspired new music! In 1788 the Florentine composer Giuseppe Moneta composed his cantata L’Urano, marking Herschel’s 1781 discovery of Uranus - which he had wanted to call ‘Georgium Sidus (The Star of George) in honour of George III - for the wedding of Archduke Francesco. One wonders whether Herschel ever heard, or even heard of, this musical tribute to the scientific achievements which had grown from his own study of music.

Glyn Pursglove 


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 cpo reviews

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

All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

November 2022
Bach Orchestral Suites

del Cinque
Del Cinque Cello sonatas

Fujita Mozart
Mao Fujita Mozart

Stanczyk Acousmatic Music


October 2022

Berg Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto Elmes

DEbussy Jeux
Debussy Jeux

Romantic pioano masters
Romantic Piano Masters

The future is female - Vol 2
Volume 2 - The Dance

impromptu harp music
Complete Harp Impromptus




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.