One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

Some items
to consider


colourful imaginative harmony
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Leticia Gómez-Tagle
Chopin, Liszt, Scarlatti

Guillaume LEKEU

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Acte Prealable returns
with New Releases

Superior performance

Shostakovich 6&7 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem Thielemann

Marianna Henriksson
An outstanding recital

Arnold Bax
Be converted

this terrific disc

John Buckley
one of my major discoveries

François-Xavier Roth
A game-changing Mahler 3


Bryden Thomson


Vaughan Williams Concertos

RVW Orchestral



We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
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: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline

English Viola Sonatas
Gordon JACOB (1895-1984) Viola Sonata (1978) [12.35]
John IRELAND (1879-1962) Cello Sonata (transc. Tertis and Ireland) (1941) [19.12]
Frederick DELIUS (1862-1934) Cello Sonata (transc. Outram) (1918) [10.01]
Malcolm ARNOLD (1921-2006) Viola Sonata (1947) [12.11]
Lennox BERKELEY (1903-1989) Viola Sonata Op. 22 (1946) [17.38]
Martin Outram (viola); Julian Rolton (piano)
rec. 19-21 October 2009, Wyastone Concert Hall, Monmouth. DDD
NAXOS 8.572208 [72.04]

Experience Classicsonline
“The Cinderella of string instruments”

“A violist and a cellist were standing on a sinking ship. ‘Help!’ cried the cellist, I can’t swim. ‘Don’t worry’, said the violist ‘just fake it.’”

“How can you be expected to take an instrument seriously when on a high-profile CD like this two of the works were originally written for cello”.

Now before the letters of protest clatter onto my doorstep I will add that the above are not my words but those of a lovely ex-pupil now in the viola section of a top London orchestra and enjoying every minute! We sat down with the score of Ireland’s Cello Sonata, the longest work on the disc and listened. The transcription is special because in part at least the composer made it himself for the great Lionel Tertis who inspired a whole raft of music for his instrument, both transcriptions and originals. He and Ireland broadcast the transcription during the second world war. It was what the composer wanted. True, you do lose some of the original brooding earthiness in favour of a wistful melancholy but this is not just a case of shoving everything up the octave for the viola. Ireland and Tertis exploited the wonderful viola range above the treble clef much more especially in the second movement. This meant re-voicing some of the piano chords quite magically. Martin Outram has a marvellous tone also in the darker lower octave and the balance with the piano is excellent.

The other première recording here is also a transcription. Delius’s Cello Sonata plays in one continuous lyrical flow with the soloist hardly ever resting. As Roger Buckley of the Delius Society comments in his very useful booklet note on this work it falls into three sections with a central dreamy Lento, molto tranquillo. Martin Outram has transcribed this himself and there is a precedent because Tertis transcribed other works of Delius in the composer’s lifetime and with his approval. This piece works very well and seems highly suitable in its new guise. In fact not knowing the original I could easily have thought that this arrangement was its original.

Given its English pastoral vein it seems incredible that Gordon Jacob’s Viola Sonata should date from 1978. This is particularly in movement two which speaks of past years with nostalgia and yearning. The outer movements are more spiky and the whole, as ever with Jacob, is beautifully and effortlessly conceived for an instrument he loved. He wrote two viola concertos fifty years apart and crafted many a fine sonata. My only complaint is that the happy finale is rather too short at less than two minutes.

Talking of spiky the most stylistically advanced piece here is Malcolm Arnold’s Sonata which is surprisingly an early work of 1947. His studies into Bartók can be detected in certain ‘nocturnal’ effects found in the outer movements mainly with the use of ‘sul pont’ and the very highest register. I even detected a touch of Piazzolla (before his time) in the first movement. It is a highly original utterance and typically quirky. It would be especially suitable both in length and required technique for a student recital.

Like the wine at Canaan in Galilee the best is saved until last with a wonderful performance of Lennox Berkeley’s Viola Sonata. And here the understanding behind this musical partnership comes to the fore because, as Outram writes in the interesting booklet notes the first movement “is in conversational sonata form” in which a balance of viola and piano is important. At one time the piano leads by suddenly and quixotically altering the mood and at another the viola. The middle movement is a heart-felt song which rises twice to an impassioned climax and the finale requires rhythmic dexterity from the partnership. This is a very fine work and I am delighted to make its acquaintance.

This disc is not just for aficionados of slightly obscure British music. This disc places the often-overlooked viola near the forefront of the musical life of the UK in the attraction it exercised over some of the finest composers of the era. That they took time out, as it were, to give it their best effort is praise indeed. With this music and these performances we are undoubtedly the richer.

Gary Higginson

see also review by Bob Briggs



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.