Aureole etc.

Golden Age singers

Nimbus on-line

Faure songs
Charlotte de Rothschild (soprano);

  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Some items
to consider

Free classical music concerts by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.


Moravec - Twelfth Night Recital
15%off £17.21 (until Dec 7)

Katerina Englichová - harp
15%0ff £10.83 (until Dec 7)

  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo
  • Stellar debut<br>piano recital
  • Clarinet transcriptions Jonathan Cohler
  • Jonathan Cohler & Claremont Trio
  • French clarinet masterpieces
  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo

Sibelius Symphonies Maazel
4CDs + Blu-ray audio
Special Price £36.75

RVW A Sea Symphony - Elder

Shostakovich Symphony 10 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem

Dvorak Opera Premiere

Grieg, Mendelssohn sonatas




Would you like a hyperlinked weekly summary of the CDs we have reviewed?

Click for further details

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Prima voce
Red Priest
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Buy through MusicWeb
for £13.50 postage paid World-wide.

Musicweb Purchase button

Dmitri SHOSTAKOVICH (1906-1975)
Symphony for Strings, Op. 118a (arr. Barshai, after String Quartet No. 10, 1964) [26:08]
Chamber Symphony, Op. 49a (arr. Barshai, after String Quartet No. 1, 1938) [15:59]
Chamber Symphony, Op. 110a (arr. Barshai, after String Quartet No. 8, 1960) [21:56]
Rotterdam Chamber Orchestra/Conrad van Alphen
rec. Studio 5, Miziekcentrum van de Omroep, Hilversum
TALENT DOM 2929 72 [64:03]

Experience Classicsonline

The performance of string chamber music with multiple players per part has ample precedent, especially in larger-framed pieces that require more players in the first place. Mendelssohn's Octet and Wagner's Siegfried-Idyll are established repertoire standards in "expanded" performance. Otto Klemperer recorded one of the great Mozart serenades with such forces, while the supposed purist Toscanini played and recorded Beethoven's Septet for strings and winds with a larger ensemble of his NBC Symphony strings.
The practice of doubling parts in string quartet music, however, remains suspect in some quarters. The unstated goal of such "expanded" performances is, presumably, to access a wider range of expression than is available within the chamber framework. The underlying premise - that "more" is, ipso facto, "better" - doesn't necessarily apply to music, but neither does it preclude getting a good result. Certainly this appears to have been conductor Rudolf Barshai's purpose in arranging a number of Shostakovich's knotty string quartets as "chamber symphonies" and "string symphonies". The present disc gathers three of those arrangements.
Barshai's transcriptions are most effective where the music incorporates overtly "symphonic" musical gestures. In the Allegretto furioso movement of the Symphony for Strings, the violent lower-string chords and subsequent whirling figurations above - the latter recalling the finale of the Fifth Symphony - pack more punch in this larger-scaled realization. So does the sudden outburst of tone and vigorous activity in the Allegro molto of Opus 110a. The Allegro finale of Op 49a begins playfully, but the imposing sound of massed cellos and basses - the latter absent in the original quartet - conjure an increasing sense of foreboding.
In some places, Barshai retains a solo string distribution. Sometimes, it's simple discretion: some of those passages might be difficult to negotiate successfully with a larger number of players although the use of multiple players per part is more forgiving in the octaves at the start of Opus 110a's fourth movement. Other such passages gain in emotional power from the contrast with the fuller sonorities elsewhere. The latter is certainly true at the start of the Adagio of the Symphony for Strings; paradoxically, as the remaining sectional players join in, the expressive effect is neutralized! Similarly, the solo strands at 1:20 of Opus 110a gradually expand into a full-throated arrival at 3:40, at which point the edgy, sidling chromatics slide into more nearly diatonic harmony - the tone thus clarifying the structure.
Here and there, for those familiar with the originals, the orchestral format brings losses as well as gains. In the second movement of Opus 49a, the haunting sparseness of the widely spaced textures - the sort of thing so easily realized in a quartet - is dissipated in the resonance of the additional instruments. And, at 6:25 in the finale of the Symphony for Strings, with subsidiary parts moving against the more sustained theme, definition is less clear than in a good quartet performance, although everything "sounds".
The questionable moments can't be blamed on the Rotterdam Chamber Orchestra's committed performances. The players take the composer's metric irregularities in stride, and shape broad phrases with assurance, even in the slow movements. There are patches of dry articulation here and there, but elsewhere the sonority is warm and polished, particularly from the lower instruments. The climax at 2:04 of the second Moderato in Op. 49a elicits an impassioned outpouring of bass tone. The cellos dig into the low legato phrases of the first movement with a dusky depth. The unanimity of musical intent is a tribute to the players as well as to conductor Conrad van Alphen.
I enjoyed the vivid, pleasantly ambient recorded sound, the effect of which in the Allegretto of Opus 110a is strikingly directional.

Stephen Francis Vasta
Stephen Francis Vasta is a New York-based conductor, coach, and journalist.















































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.