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


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

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing



CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline

Louis SPOHR (1784-1859)
Double String Quartet No. 1 in D minor, Op. 65 (1823) [24:00]
Double String Quartet No. 2 in E flat, Op. 77 (1827) [27:22]
Forde Ensemble
rec. 15-16 January 2008, St Mark’s Church, Purley, Surrey, UK. DDD.
NAXOS 8.570963 [51:22]
Experience Classicsonline

This recording of Volume 1 of Spohr’s Double Quartets has been available for some time as a download from Naxos’s sister company,, in which form it was reviewed some months ago by Brian Reinhart - see review.

Spohr is in grave danger of having the 250th anniversary of his death overshadowed by commemorations of centenaries and half-centenaries of Purcell, Handel, Haydn, Mendelssohn and Martinů. He may not be such a major figure as any of them, but he certainly doesn’t deserve to go unnoticed. His Clarinet Concertos and his Octet and Nonet figure reasonably largely in the recorded repertoire, but the rest of his chamber music is hardly well known. Naxos’s other sister company, Marco Polo, have been doing their best by him for some time, with a multi-volume set of his String Quartets; I reviewed Volume 12 of that series almost two years ago (8.225316 - see review). Naxos have also reissued a recommendable series of ex-Marco Polo recordings of Spohr’s Quintets and Sextet. Now I’m pleased to see that the Forde Ensemble will be doing the same for his Double Quartets. There’s just one more volume to come.

I must admit at the outset that these Double Quartets are not as immediately enticing and enjoyable as the Nonet and Octet; if you have yet to embark on collecting his chamber music, that’s where you should probably start. The ASV Gold recording of the Nonet is available at bargain price (GLD4026, with the Septet - see review by Glyn Pursglove) and the classic 1958 Vienna Octet performance of the Octet may be had from Testament (SBT1261, also with the Septet) or as a download in good 320kb/s mp3 sound from (Decca 466 5802 , with Schubert’s even more wonderful Octet - see review by Harry Downey).

The Nash Ensemble combines the Octet and Nonet on a mid-price CRD recording which I recommended in its download form (CRD3354). As well as being available from which I mentioned in the October, 2008, Download Roundup, that CRD recording can be had for the price of just 8 tracks from The Gaudier Ensemble also combine these two works on Hyperion CDA66699, described by Colin Clarke as ‘a perfect next port of call’ after the Piano Quintet - see review. Please note that there is one digit too many in the catalogue number which CC gives.

Of the two works on the present recording, only the Double Quartet No.2 begins to approach the charm of the Octet and Nonet. Its predecessor largely passed me by, despite - or perhaps because of - its nods in the direction of Haydn and Mozart. I’m sure that the eminent players who from time to time come together as the Forde Ensemble do their best by it. The second, as Naxos’s own notes admit, integrates the players into a more evenly balanced whole. Spohr was finding his way here; Beethoven’s largest-scale chamber music, the Septet and Serenade, and Schubert’s delightful Octet were of a completely different kind, combining strings and wind. Mendelssohn’s Octet was composed for the equivalent of two string quartets, but he integrated them, whereas Spohr retains the individuality of the two participating quartets. As he put it, Mendelssohn’s players ‘do not concert and interchange in double choir with each other’, as his did.

The quality of the performers available to Spohr when he wrote the first Double Quartet was limited but he felt able to write more adventurously for its successor. Whatever challenges there are in this work are ably dealt with by the Forde Ensemble. Like Brian Reinhart, I’m looking forward to hearing the second and concluding volume. Also like BR, I haven’t yet heard the rival performances on Hyperion, though I hope to remedy this by including it and the Gaudier Ensemble’s Octet and Nonet in a future Download Roundup. The price differential between what will be two Naxos CDs and the Hyperion is not quite as great as BR implies, since the latter is offered as a Dyad two-for-one set (CDD22014).

I haven’t repeated many of the things which BR says in his analysis of the music and his account of its genesis, since I agree with almost everything that he writes. Like him, I find this first volume attractive and, with excellent playing and very good recording, well worth its modest price. Like him, though, I also believe that you may prefer to wait for Volume 2. Better still, if you don’t yet know Spohr’s Octet and Nonet, do avail yourself of recording(s) of those wonderful works.

Brian Wilson

see also review by Brian Reinhart



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.