MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2023
Approaching 60,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

William WALTON (1902-1983)
String Quartet (1919-1922) (premiere recording of the original version) [35:17]
String Quartet in A minor (1944-1947) [26:47]
Doric String Quartet (Alex Redington (violin); Jonathan Stone (violin); Simon Tandree (viola); John Myerscough (cello))
rec. Potton Hall, Suffolk, 14-16 July 2010. DDD
CHANDOS CHAN10661 [62:17]

Experience Classicsonline

Given the relative paucity of string quartet repertoire from the UK, it is surprising that Walton's two contributions to the genre are not heard more often. In the case of his earliest quartet, there are a number of historical factors to explain the fact, but the later quartet is a very fine work indeed. Perhaps if the Elgar and Delius quartets didn't make such a convenient CD-length pairing, we'd get to hear this one more often.

The quartets are unnumbered because Walton considered the first a student work. True enough, he was an undergraduate when he started it. A dodgy first performance didn't help its prospects, which Walton first attempted to improve by introducing major cuts. He later gave up on the whole thing and withdrew the work. This is the first recording of the full score; it has appeared before now, again on Chandos, in a version edited by Christopher Palmer. Walton described the work as 'full of undigested Bartók and Schoenberg', which to my ear is only partly true. He certainly goes for Schoenberg's contrapuntal style when it comes to string quartet writing, and the tonal basis for the music is often difficult to pin down. But on the whole this is a very civilised and very English response to central European developments. The urge to cut the score is understandable, if it has one major failing it is that it overstretches its material, and the fugal finale, clever as it is, would make a stronger impact if it were more concise. But that is the only aspect of the music that betrays its student origins.

By contrast, the maturity and accomplishment of the A minor quartet is everywhere apparent. The music here is in the mould of the First Symphony, echoes of which regularly peep though the textures, giving added support to the music's symphonic scope. The Presto second movement in particular, could almost be a transcription of the First Symphony's Scherzo. And unlike the earlier quartet, this work really hangs together and fully justifies its almost half hour length.

The performances are excellent throughout: lively, focused and with plenty of timbral variety. The Doric Quartet clearly live this music, to such an extent that they even dress in sharp Walton-style suits for the liner photographs. There is simply nothing to fault in their technique or ensemble.

The sound too is very good. Potton Hall provides a warm but clear acoustic, creating an audio environment that is both inviting and engaging. The pizzicatos in the A minor Quartet's Largo movement really benefit from the warmth of the sound, taking on a lilting bounce. There is plenty of bass in the mix, so the cello comes through well, yet the balance is finely judged throughout.

The track record of Chandos when it comes to promoting British music is as good as anybody's, so it is no surprise that a recording of this quality should come from them. Both quartets have their competitors on CD - the first in both the fuller and shortened versions - but there is still plenty of space in the catalogue for a recording with this level of commitment, insight and audio quality.

Gavin Dixon

Editor’s Note: The 1919-22 quartet was also recorded by the Gabrieli String Quartet in a full version running to 35:45. It was heard in 1990 as edited by Christopher Palmer and is on Chandos CHAN 8944. The Emperor Quartet then recorded the work in a shortened edition [31:57] in 2000 and that can be heard on Black Box BBM1035. The quartet carries the dedication: "for Bumps from William, September 28th 1936". Bumps was the nickname for Brighton-born Hyam Greenbaum (1901–42) – himself a composer of an orchestral Sea Poem and Parfums de la Nuit for oboe and orchestra - who is reported to have helped Walton in the orchestration of his early film scores. It makes one wonder whether one will ever hear Walton’s similarly very early overture Dr Syntax.






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

Past 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.