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


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

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

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



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month



From Ocean’s Floor


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience



CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
CD 1
Symphony No. 5 in D op.47 (1937) [46:17]
Symphony No. 6 in B minor op. 54 (1939) [33:18]
CD 2
Symphony No. 7 in C major op. 60 Leningrad (1941) [73:26]
Philadelphia Orchestra (5 & 6), NBC Symphony Orchestra (7)/Leopold Stokowski
rec. Academy of Music, Philadelphia, 20 April 1939 (Victor 78s M-619) (first Western recording) (5); 8, 20 December 1940 (Victor 78s M-867) (world premiere recording) (6); live, 13 December 1942, NBC Studio 8H, NY (NBC broadcast transcription discs) (7). mono. ADD.
MUSIC & ARTS CD-1232 [79:40 + 73:26]
Experience Classicsonline

Two pre-Pearl Harbor performances of the Shostakovich wartime symphonies and another from after the USA's entry into the war.

These are not perfect examples of the recording art of the late 1930s into 1940s. They are of predominantly historic interest for out-and-out Shostakovich fans. Even so M&A’s contractors - including Mark Obert-Thorn in the case of CD 1 - have ministered tenderly and very effectively to these documents of the Soviet symphony in the USA and others will also derive pleasure from the vibrancy of symphonies 5 and 7. 

The Fifth Symphony is given in a version that majors on sombre intensity and brooding romantic power. As an illustration try the third movement at 2:09 with those singing high tensile violins. The brass are caught in superb heart at the start of the romping finale with incredible unanimity.

The Sixth Symphony - especially its arching first movement - sings out with Brucknerian amplitude yet without the blaze of heat which both Mravinsky and Svetlanov light under that Largo. Much to my surprise Stokowski adopts a looser hand than he does in the first movement of the Fifth. The lighter playfulness of the symphony's Allegro and Presto is made more of and because the Largo is taken at a slacker state the three movements dovetail more cogently than usual. In fact the two movements after the Largo sound more akin to Prokofiev than usual. Their playfulness looks forward to Prokofiev’s Seventh Symphony.

For disc 2 we leave the restorative work of Mark Obert-Thorn and become acquainted with that of N.N and Kit Higginson. Despite Stokowski's pleas and his longstanding connection with the composer the NBC, who had bought the performing rights for the Seventh in the USA, allocated its premiere on 19 July 1942 to Toscanini. But Shostakovich condemned Toscanini’s superficiality. Toscanini himself - who had beaten off Stokoswki for the honour of the premiere - later could not believe that he had lavished time in learning what he then claimed was 'such trash'. The Toscanini premiere has been issued commercially by RCA so you can form your own impressions if you can track it down. Stokowski, much favoured by Shostakovich, had his version lauded to the skies when he conducted it with the NBCSO on 13 December 1942. This is what we hear on this second disc. As an audio document it is flawed, brittle and bristle-brush noisy. Yet in the hands of the Higginsons the music signal emerges with unapologetic immediacy. It sounds good for example in the first movement - the start of the side-drum ostinato even if the music has to compete with audience coughing. It strikes me as the most musical of performances capitalising on even the most inventively threadbare passages in a work with its share of flag-snapping gaud. These broadcast transcription discs have seen better days but thank the heavens for whoever preserved them.

The really useful recording-specific notes are by David Patmore.

Get this single-width double CD set while you can. Here is history made and in the making to be experienced again. These three recordings are as important in their way as Bruno Walter's 1938 Mahler 9 in Vienna.

Rob Barnett



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.