One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,928 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

Salon Treasures from the Max Jaffa Library



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
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



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

July 2022

John Luther Adams Houses of the Wind
John Luther Adams
Houses of the Wind

Horneman Alladin
Horneman Alladin

Stojowski piano concertos
Piano Concertos 1 & 2

Vaughan Williams on Brass

Yi Lin Jiang - Dualis I

June 2022

Beethoven Sonatas 29, 32

Orchestral Works

String Quartets Vol 1




CD: AmazonUK

Frank DENYER (b.1943)
On, on - it must be so (1977-78) [8:31]
Quite White (1978) [7:37]
Wheat (1977-81) [8:30]
Unnamed (1997) [45:28]
Yoshikazu Iwamoto (shakuhachi); Paul Hiley and Frank Denyer (percussion)
rec. April 1994, and May 1999 (Unnamed) at Dartington Hall, Devon, and September 1981, Royal College of Music, London (Quite White)
Experience Classicsonline

Unlike transverse flutes the Japanese bamboo flute, the shakuhachi, is played vertically - a bit like a single pipe from a set of pan pipes but with finger holes. In the hands of a master such as Yoshikazu Iwamoto, this instrument is capable of a remarkable range of expression. It can sound like a human voice, conjure imagery of wind and weather or haunting owl-like cries, and with its open mouthpiece can be made to perform almost pure glissandi - something rare with woodwind instruments other than the swanee whistle.

Frank Denyer’s music, on the strength of past experience with an Etcetera label release ‘Finding Refuge in the Remains’, can be quite a tough listen. His is a serious idiom, often using microtones and influences from non-western music, and this collection of works for shakuhachi is one of the purist expressions of this affinity with worlds beyond the conventions of Western tonality and timbre. This is almost as much Yoshikazu Iwamoto’s album as it is Denyer’s. The music here is the result of a collaboration dating from 1974, and Iwamoto’s technical prowess and style suffuses everything on the disc with an aura of authentic Japanese colour - albeit within the context and framework of Denyer’s fascinating concepts.

The three first pieces on this disc were originally released on an LP in 1984, though there are no details of this with the CD. On,on - it must be so brings us into the programme with a bump, the vocal inflections and stream of inventiveness of the flute accompanied by a bass drum and castanets. This is music in a modern idiom, but the directness of communication that Iwamoto can draw from his instrument turns what might be perceived as angular melodic shapes into a monologue of massive narrative and emotional strength. Quite White is a virtuoso work from the first note, a high pitch to be played pianissimo, and a feat that Iwamoto performs repeatedly throughout the piece without apparent strain. Yoshikazu Iwamoto’s own references in these pieces are revealing statements about music which he clearly has a great affinity. Comparing Quite White with the words of T.S. Eliot; the feel of the music as “some infinitely gentle, infinitely suffering thing” sums this piece up exactly. In six short movements, Wheat brings back the two percussionists, this time including specially designed bamboo slit drums and stones. Again, wailing emotions and vocal gestures are conjured, the colours and sounds of bamboo blown and struck, and the living resonance of the flute against the inorganic rap of stone against stone develop the worlds explored in the previous pieces, expanding range and dimension in six expressions or sound portraits of compact and compelling intensity.

The final work on this CD is a remarkable solo, Unnamed, and at 45 minutes Denyer’s longest work to date. This is a fully formed expression of Denyer’s mid-1990s phase of “intense concentration on extremely quiet sounds, sounds so soft and delicate they seem in danger of disappearing altogether, of being brutally nudged out of existence.” This is Bob Gilmore in his booklet notes for this release, ably summing up the atmosphere of stillness in this piece. This is music which appears through a veil of dark silence, retaining an enigmatic and secretive quality which seems to explore the world of the subconscious. Sounds are suggested, breathy and distant, very occasionally looming out at us like unexpected ghosts, or singing gently like a lullaby heard at the far end of a place both deserted and derelict. The score of Unnamed uses colour notation to indicate the complexities of the microtonal content. Tellingly, one aspect of this disturbed Yoshikazu Iwamoto, who emphatically told Denyer “I cannot play a red note.” Perhaps this could have become the title of the piece, though if there are no takers I’ll lay a claim to this myself. The recording is not listed as live, though mention of it being “recorded live at Dartington in 1999” is made at the end of the booklet notes. There are however a few patches where editing has clearly been used, suggesting someone in the audience may have had a sneeze attack. Whatever the case, there is thankfully no coughing or applause, and the flow of the piece is a superbly uninterrupted ornate gobelin tapestry of sound in minimum tamen contentus; the structural and musical patterns visible and clear if viewed obliquely, like Holbein’s anamorphic skull in ‘The Ambassadors’.

This disc represents the kind of creative collaboration and catalyst for conjoining disparate musical worlds that should serve as an inspiration and model for composers and performers alike. Contemporary western flute players have already absorbed a great deal from the influences of the East, but a piece like Unnamed has, for me at least, shown that there are huge tracts of expressive potential still to be discovered. As a listening experience it does have a great deal to offer to collectors of contemporary music, as well as fans of ‘world’ music. It is certainly not hard on the ears, but does demand a certain frame of mind or willingness to adopt a different span of concentration demanded by more familiar material. All of the recordings are very good, and there is no perceptible difference in quality between the earlier tapes and the more recent work. The acoustic leap to the Royal College of Music in Quite White is not much of a stretch, and, some innocuous ambient murmuring during Unnamed aside, the marvellous location of Dartington Hall is otherwise perfect for these works.

Dominy Clements


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.