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

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


Recordings of the Month


Opera transcriptions & fantasias


Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

Schubert Symphony 9


Jean-Baptiste LEMOYNE

Enescu Ravel Britten

Debussy Images etc.

53 Studies on Chopin Études 1
Konstantin Scherbakov (piano)





Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


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


CD: Crotchet

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Ode for St Cecilia’s Day HWV 76 [49:34]
Felicity Palmer (soprano); Anthony Rolfe Johnson (tenor)
Stockholm Bach Choir; Concentus musicus Wien/Nikolaus Harnoncourt
rec. Bremen and Vienna, October 1977 and February 1978. Original English text included
DAS ALTE WERK 2564 68709-5 [49:34]

Experience Classicsonline

Dryden’s Ode for St Cecilia’s Day was written in 1687 and first set by Draghi, but it is the later setting by Handel which is usually remembered today. The poet offers opportunity after opportunity for the composer to illustrate not just the characteristics of the various instruments (“The trumpet’s loud clangour”, “The soft complaining flute”, “The sacred organ” and so on) but also a wonderful series of images which suggest musical treatment. These range from the heavenly harmony “from which this universal frame began” to Orpheus leading the savage race with his lyre, and finally the Last Trumpet when “the dead shall live, the living die”. These are wonderful lines, and wonderfully set by Handel never missing an opportunity to show the range of his musical imagination in responding to each image. It is surprising that it is not more performed and recorded more often, and I would willingly trade most of the performances and recordings of “Messiah” that I have heard for an equal number of performances and recordings of this Ode.

The present recording is by no means new, and comes as part of a series entitled “Nikolaus Harnoncourt The Best Recordings”. Whether it deserves that title I would not care to say, but it certainly adds up to a more than adequate performance of the piece. That may seem like faint praise and I admit that I did not enjoy it much at the start as the Overture and the first chorus - “From Harmony” - show the conductor at his most fussy, lacking the solidity of approach needed to drive this music on. Things soon improve, however, especially in the series of solos which form the bulk of the piece. Both singers are on top of their form, always reliable, always responsive to the music and with admirably clear diction. The final chorus starts with the unaccompanied soprano soloist alternating with the choir and orchestra in a series of long and powerful phrases. I have got used elsewhere to some rather obvious help being given to the soprano by the engineers to avoid the contest being too unequal. That does not happen here as Felicity Palmer, at that time still a soprano, shows herself to be more than a match for the forces alternating with her. I remember a live performance of Monteverdi’s Vespers at about the same time as this recording in which Felicity Palmer sang the solo lines in the Sonata Sopra Sancta Maria at one end of a cathedral while the orchestra attempted to compete with her from the other end. She won hands down, as she does here, and the disc would be worth having for this moment alone and for the splendid singing of the Stockholm Bach Choir in the main part of this Chorus. All in all this is a performance certainly worthy of the marvellous music on the disc. The recording does not show its age to any material degree and chorus and orchestra are fully up to the standard of the very distinguished soloists.

It is a great pity that Das Alte Werk did not include more Handel on the present disc - there must be plenty of other recordings which could have been chosen from this conductor - as this would have made it more competitive. As it is, this is a performance with solid merits that deserve its return to circulation.

John Sheppard 


















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.