52,943 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


paid for

Chopin Edition 17CDs
now available separately
£11 post-free anywhere


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

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


Symphonies 1, 2, 3



Aho Symphony 5

Dowland - A Fancy


Rachmaninov_ Babayan


Opera transcriptions & fantasias


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

Schubert Symphony 9



CD: Crotchet
Download: Classicsonline

Brett DEAN (b. 1961)
Pastoral Symphony (2000, rev. 2002) [17:07]
The Siduri Dances (2007)a [12:10]
Water Music (2003, rev. 2004)b [24:12]
Carlo (1997) [20:06]
Sharon Bezaly (flute)a; Raschèr Saxophone Quartetb
Swedish Chamber Orchestra/HK Gruber, Brett Dean
rec. Örebro Concert Hall, Sweden, June 2006 (Pastoral Symphony, Water Music, Carlo) and May 2007 (The Siduri Dances)
BIS BIS-CD-1576 [74:46]

Experience Classicsonline

Several recent records released by ABC Classics and BIS have given Brett Dean’s music the wider exposure that it undoubtedly deserves. The works on this brand new disc tend to confirm Dean’s status as a highly personal composer. He emerges as a composer whose music tackles contemporary issues in purely musical terms rather than in the bluntly polemical ones that one might have expected. For example, Pastoral Symphony and Water Music deal with contemporary concerns such as deforestation and man’s repeated damage to Nature in Pastoral Symphony and the global problem of water supply and lack of it in Water Music. Other works such as Carlo and Testament draw on extra-musical preoccupations such as madness and despair. Other still such as Game Over and Vexations and Devotions reflect on certain debilitating effects of our present-day “civilisation” such as the banality of modern TV and its game and reality shows or of the use of often abstruse jargon alienating the power of speech.

Pastoral Symphony for ensemble and tape was composed after the composer’s return to Australia. “This piece is about glorious birdsong, the threat that it faces, the loss, and the soulless noise that we’re left with when they’re all gone” (Brett Dean). The work opens with a dawn chorus on tape to which the oboe adds its harmonic overtones to create an intense, atmospheric but by no means idyllic landscape. This uneasy, foreboding feeling prevails for a while. The music then seems to open-up but becomes more agitated and restless till it reaches a climax when the insistent sounds of a logger’s axe are heard. After the trees fall birds scatter and the music launches into an aggressive, mechanical section leading into the barren and desolate coda.

The Siduri Dances for flute and strings - the most recent work here and the only one that does not use sampler or pre-recorded material - draws on a piece for flute: Demons composed for Sharon Bezaly. The composer points that Siduri is a wise female divinity from the Epic of Gilgamesh, who dwells by the sea at the ends of the earth and offers sage advice to those travelling to other realms. After a short, mysterious introduction the music becomes livelier and dance-like while pausing for some calmer episodes. It progressively calms down and slowly makes its way back towards its mysterious close. This is a lovely work that should find a permanent place in any flautist’s repertoire. Sharon Bezaly’s playing and musicality is a real joy from first to last.

Water Music for saxophone quartet and chamber orchestra is a more serious affair. It is in three movements with titles that clearly trace the music’s narration: Bubbling (the sound of water), Coursing (the image of rushing water) and Parched Earth (the absence of water). Dean displays his full compositional array. He does this in a most imaginative way to suggest his various visions while avoiding any all-too-crude pictorial effects. The sonic register of the saxophone quartet - that the composer considers as a “super-instrument” - is remarkably imaginative throughout. The composer also uses more advanced techniques such as multiphonics, key clicks and the like, but never extravagantly. Sampled material is also used in the outer movements but is conspicuously absent from the central Scherzo. The first movement is appropriately capricious whereas the second is an energetic Scherzo in which the propulsive character of the music rarely flags. Room is left for a slow chorale after which the music resumes its course and rushes towards an animated conclusion capped by a brief, dark coda. The final movement paints a bleak and desolate landscape.

Carlo is the earliest and the most complex work in this ear-opening selection. It draws on Gesualdo’s life and work as well as on Dean’s admiration of his music. It is scored for strings, sampler and tape. Meurig Bowen’s excellent notes go into considerable detail about the complex fabric of the music. It would be idle for me to try of sum them up or (worse!) to repeat them, the more so in that I am not particularly well-versed in Gesualdo’s music. Carlo opens with music by Gesualdo heard on tape/CD. This is soon confronted with Dean’s own reaction to the music. This then proceeds wave-like through a series of contrasted episodes until it reaches its horror-stricken climax - Gesualdo stabbing his wife and her lover? There follows a lengthy coda based on Gesualdo’s second Responsory for Maundy Thursday ending with an unresolved crescendo. To be quite frank I admit being somewhat prejudiced about this piece before listening to it. However, repeated hearings have convinced me that this is by far the most impressive work in this generous selection of Dean’s honest and thought-provoking music.

Performances and recording are first rate from start to end, and Bowen’s detailed and well-informed notes considerably add to one’s appreciation of these often gripping works.

Hubert Culot



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.