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

in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati








Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

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
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


CD: AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download: Classicsonline

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Alexander’s Feast (1736)
Gerlinde Sämann (soprano); Knut Schoch (tenor); Klaus Mertens (bass); Junge Kantorei
Frankfurt Baroque Orchestra/Joachim Carlos Martini
rec. live, Kloster Eberbach, Rheingau, Germany, 11 May 2008
NAXOS 8.572224 [79:49]

Experience Classicsonline

While it’s late for the Handel Anniversary year, this Feast is very welcome. This is the latest instalment in Martini’s Naxos Handel series from Frankfurt: other releases include Solomon, Hercules, Tobit and Semele. It won’t please Anglophone purists but I found much of it very enjoyable.

The disc gains hugely from being a live performance, though the audience is so well behaved that you would never guess it. There is a good sense of to-and-fro and there’s creative energy coming from the audience: never did it feel stilted. Above all, Martini’s direction is flexible and always interesting. He is helped by a band that responds convincingly to every nuance. The juicy orchestral sounds add an entirely distinctive air to this performance, something I was very happy to live with. Timotheus’ harp solo in track 4 and the exciting figurations when the king “seizes a flambeau” are only two examples. Martini propels the action forwards so that the pace never flags and attention never wavers.

Happily, the solo singing is just as good. Gerlinde Sämann’s soprano is bright and clear, almost in the Emma Kirkby category. She responds well to the inflections (and frequent repetitions) in the text, such as in track 19 (The Prince, unable to conceal his pain). Klaus Mertens is a steady, dependable bass, who manages beauty in the stiller moments but is vigorous and agile for Timotheus’ call of revenge. Knut Schoch produces lovely tone, but he falls prey to the set’s greatest weakness: the frequently poor pronunciation of English. He is the first to sound heavily accented, but far more serious is the laxity of the chorus. Listening to them sounds like wading through treacle at times, with too many words lost in the aural fog. This is a terrible shame as their sound is quite attractive, though no-one would describe it as lithe. For that reason I can’t really recommend this disc, especially in light of the strong competition. You don’t need to have a group of native English speakers for this music but you do need to have clearly audible words which match the transparent orchestral textures. With this set I needed a text to follow, and matters were made worse by the fact that Naxos do not provide one. Not all is lost in a worthy performance, but this shouldn’t be your final choice for Alexander’s Feast.

Simon Thompson

see also review by 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.