£16 post free World-wide

 


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


 


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

Search
What's New
Previous CDs
Concerts
Jazz
Nostalgia
Composers
Resources
Announce
Labels index


Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Some items
to consider


Shostakovich 14 Petrenko


Rachmaninov #3
Prokofiev #2

 


Dunedin Consort

Peter Grimes

Hymn of Jesus: Sea Drift

Complete Mozart Edition
Mozart complete edition

Vaughan Williams Symphonies 5 & 8 £11

Weiner, Klepper, Bloch, Schulhoff £12 post free


Available again

REVIEW



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
CDAccord
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter
 

Buy through MusicWeb
for £12 postage paid World-wide.

Musicweb Purchase button

Sound Samples and Downloads

George BENJAMIN (b. 1960)
Antara (1987) [19:44]
Pierre BOULEZ (B. 1925)
Dérive (1984) [6:58]
Mémoriale (1985) [4:46]
Jonathan HARVEY (b. 1939)
Song Offerings (1985) [18:20]
Penelope Walmsley-Clark (soprano)
London Sinfonietta/George Benjamin
rec. 9 May 1989, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London (Antara); November 1988, The Maltings, Snape, U.K.
Texts printed in Booklet
NIMBUS NI5167 [49:50]

Experience Classicsonline



 
George Benjamin spent six weeks of the summer of 1984 working at Pierre Boulez’s famous musical research centre in Paris, IRCAM. Stephen Walsh’s excellent notes tell us that each evening, as he emerged into the outside world, Benjamin passed a group of Peruvian street musicians, and was fascinated by the sound of their panpipes. A year later he returned and, using the powerful computer facilities available at IRCAM, synthesised the sound of panpipes to allow the virtual instrument to be played from a digital keyboard. The acoustic instrument’s limitations –a limited number of notes available, held notes impossible and so on – were thus eradicated. The fruit of this labour was Antara – the Inca word for panpipes – scored for two keyboards, two flutes (doubling piccolo), two trombones, two percussionists and eight string players. As always with Benjamin one wonders how he manages to conjure up such a range of sound from so unpromising an ensemble. Also typical of him are the moments of near stasis and near-inaudibility. The synthesised panpipe sounds are unmistakeable, but the listener is not transported to South America by this remarkable work. It is music very much of its time, with little conventional melodic or harmonic development, but even those allergic to contemporary musical techniques will find this, I think, an easy listen, and perhaps one of the best points to start an exploration of this most fascinating and rewarding composer.
 
The programme continues with two short works by Pierre Boulez. In this case even Stephen Walsh’s eloquent prose is inadequate to convey clearly the compositional processes behind these two pieces. Whether one chooses to understand them – or try to understand them – or not, the music itself is pretty much what those already exposed to Boulez will expect: meticulous attention to sound, often ravishingly beautiful, but with few audible signposts and nothing much in the way of conventional forward movement. Mémoriale, composed in memory of the flutist Lawrence Beauregard, is a fully notated version of one movement from …explosante-fixe …, an earlier work which had featured aleatoric techniques. Dérive is a work in two parts, clearly signalled by Stephen Walsh and gratifyingly audible in performance, the first a series of chords, the second allowing rather extended melodic lines to flower. In both works the musical material is subjected to Boulez’s highly personal and extended serial technique, but a wry smile is probably a fair reaction to the explanation of how the composer used the name ‘Sacher’ as a basis for his musical material. The problem I have always had with the music of Pierre Boulez – though not with Boulez the conductor – is the almost total absence of human sensibility, despite the surface beauty. To describe the music as cold or arid is inadequate: in fact, the human being seems simply absent. This is pretty much the case here, though there are tantalising glimpses in the closing moments of both pieces.
 
There is no electronic element in Jonathan Harvey’s Song Offerings, despite the composer’s IRCAM experience. It is a fully notated, short song-cycle for soprano and eight-piece instrumental ensemble. The words are four love poems by Tagore, sung in the poet’s own English translation. In the first, the singer awaits her lover, breathlessly, excitedly trying to fend off sleep. The second, a rapid, scherzo-like piece, deals with light and dancing. The third song deals in oblique detail with the relation between earthly and heavenly love, whilst death is the surprisingly welcome wedding guest in the final song. Throughout this short cycle there are moments of remarkable beauty. The scoring of the first song, and the illustration of the word “sleep” are two such moments, and the closing passage of the third song, where the words invoke the notion of “perfect union” is as beautiful a confection as you will hear anywhere in modern music. The close of the cycle, too, is a magnificent piece of aural imagination, and profoundly moving; my only disappointment is that the composer, rather in step with the times, has the singer speak a few lines in this song: ineffective and unnecessary.
 
Song Offerings is, in my opinion, a small masterpiece, but the work’s difficulty, plus its unconventional forces will mean that live performances are bound to be rare. Buy this disc, then; it is worth the expense for this work alone. No praise is too high for Penelope Walmsley-Clark, whose beautiful voice soars and leaps in step with the fiendishly difficult, yet superbly conceived, vocal line the composer has given her. The words are printed in the booklet, which also features a list of participating instrumentalists. This is an interesting roll-call: one of the keyboards in Antara, for example, is played by Pierre-Laurent Aimard, and the list of viola players includes one Sally Beamish. Music-making of this quality is not to be found every day, and the composers will surely have been profoundly grateful to these players for the confidence and extraordinary skill they brought to these performances.
 

William Hedley
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

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

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      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

Interviews
With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site

Nostalgia

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

Comment
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

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
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
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
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
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
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.