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

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 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



CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples and Downloads

Bohuslav MARTINU (1890-1959)
Cello Sonata No.1 H277 (1939) [17:00]
Cello Sonata No.2 H286 (1941) [18:37]
Cello Sonata No.3 H340 (1952) [17:50]
Variations on a Slovak Theme H378 (1959) [9:05]
Variations on a Theme of Rossini H290 (1942) [7:39]
Paul Watkins (cello)
Huw Watkins (piano)
rec. October 2009, Potton Hall, Suffolk
CHANDOS CHAN 10602 [70:15]

Experience Classicsonline

These are meaty, powerful and assured performances, technically impressive, and disclosing once again the expected first class ensemble values cultivated by the Watkins duo. They are keen to stress the vertiginous aspects of the writing, mining every opportunity to characterise richly. There is intense energy and vitality here, and auditors will be rightly impressed by the biting sense of purpose generated. That said, there are certainly other ways of doing things.
In the First Sonata the Watkins brothers find the capricious undertow that launches so much of the writing, as they do the tensile animation. Huw Watkins clearly locates an almost impressionist sense in the staccati that open the central movement. The subsequent development is a maelstrom of almost unhinged writing, and the later pizzicato episode sounds Zemlinskian in its spookiness. The fast tempo of the finale arguably means the music is less manic than a slower one would be – but the Watkins duo take the faster option.
Their approach is a sinewy, molten one throughout. The trenchant approach to the Second Sonata is certainly consistent, its volatility malleable and worrying. For all this volatility I was surprised that the dynamic level in the second movement wasn’t slightly more varied, though the playing is certainly subtly coloured, angst-filled, and even lurid in places. Heavyweight bowing is a feature of the performances generally, which is not to imply that Paul Watkins is insensitive but rather that his approach is explicitly to be contrasted with others who have essayed this repertoire. I happen to find the duo rather tiring in this respect, and wish that they could be persuaded to relax tempi and tonal weight. I also wish Paul Watkins’s cadential passage in the finale of this sonata had not been so heavily vibrated.
The opening of the Third Sonata always strikes me as Martinu’s ‘Policka Carillon’. The sense of nostalgia is pervasive, but whilst the Czech duo of Chuchro and Hála are affectionate and lyric, the Watkins duo reprise the tough love approach that they do, consistently it must be noted, display throughout. The Juliette theme is rather hammered out, and this heavy on the pedal and on the vibrato approach tends to minimise the more playful elements of the music. It’s no surprise that their slow movement is really fast. They sound a touch embarrassed by the opening pizzicato figures if taken slowly, so whip through them. It’s really more of an Allegretto than an Andante. I know the sonata was dedicated to the memory of Hans Kindler but Huw Watkins, in particular, really pile drives his way through it, as he did, rather showily, in the finale of the First.
The two Variations are useful pendants. The Variations on a Slovak Theme is now a recital and disc favourite and rightly so, whilst less often heard but captivating is the Variations on a Theme of Rossini, which was composed just after the Second Sonata.
The recording was made at ubiquitous Potton Hall and captures the ambience well. A dry chilly acoustic was accorded the Mattia Zappa/Massimiliano Mainolfi recording of the sonatas. Saša Vectomov and Josef Pálenícek’s Supraphon set – which includes both variations - has replaced the old Josef Chuchro/Josef Hála performances. This older performance remains my preferred one. Newcomers however will note the divergences that these sonatas can withstand.
Jonathan Woolf


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

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.