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

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: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

Robert JOHNSON (c.1583-1633)
The Prince’s Almain and other Dances for Lute
The Prince’s Almain, Masque and Coranto [4.26]; Pavan No 1 [5.16]; Galliard: My Lady Mildmay’s Delight [1.42]; Pavan No 2 [7.24]; 2 Almains [2.42]; The Noble Man [2.52]; The Witches Dance [1.50]; Pavan No 3 [6.54]; 3 Almains [4.43]; The Fairies’ Dance [2.12]; Fantasie [3.31]; Galliard [1.38]; Lady Strange’s Almain [1.02]; Pavan No 4 (set by Nigel North) [3.47]; The First, Second and Third Dances in the Prince’s Masque [3.49]; 3 Almains [3.16]; The Satyre’s Dance (set by Nigel North) [3.11]
Nigel North (lute)
rec. 16-18 September 2008, St. George’s Church, Sutton, Ontario, Canada
NAXOS 8.572178 [60.17]

Experience Classicsonline

This is not the first disc to be devoted to the music of Robert Johnson often described as Shakespeare’s Lutenist. You just need to go back to 1993 for Anthony Rooley and friends who recorded a disc of Johnson’s Theatre Music. It comprises songs and lute solos and is on Virgin classics (VC7 5931 2).

Johnson worked for Shakespeare’s company, ‘The King’s Men’ at The Globe probably from c.1605 when he would have been in his early twenties. Later he worked at Blackfriars and after the great poet’s death composed for Webster, Ben Jonson and others. For them he produced incidental music and songs for masques. It’s very difficult to know which of these pieces Shakespeare actually heard. The Witches Dance might have been for a Macbeth performance but more likely for a post-Shakespeare play; Nigel North, in his very interesting booklet notes, suggests Ben Jonson’s ‘The Masque of Queens’. But for the great man’s last plays, the Romances like ‘The Winter’s Tale’, much music was needed and Robert Johnson would have been much in demand. Johnson was no hack arranger of fill-ins. He could often, especially in his songs and here in the Pavans and the Fantasie, be inspired.

Some readers might care to search out an article I wrote for the British Music Society in a Newsletter, (No 71 September 1996) in which I tried to make a case for Robert Johnson being part of an extraordinary dynasty of musicians going back to another Robert Johnson from Scotland (c.1500-1560). The latter came to London and his sons and grandsons continued the family tradition. All of them were connected with the highest Royal Patronage.

Johnson’s 24 surviving lute works are all here. The include the very fine Fantasie (his only example), which Julian Bream on his 1962 RCA LP ‘The Golden Age of English Lute Music’ attributed to John Johnson, Robert’s father. Its style however may well be more Elizabethan than Jacobean. Other, more serious pieces include the Four Pavans. Nigel North has rather freely reconstructed the Fourth, a very melancholic piece, from the keyboard original. The latter was set by Giles Farnaby and can be found in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. North has recently recorded all of Dowland’s Lute Music and superb CDs they are too. It’s quite clear that learning Dowland has helped in an understanding of Johnson and indeed that Johnson must have known Dowland’s Pavans and been inspired by them himself.

The disc contains several short and slightly frivolous dances. Johnson was keen on the Almain and ten of them are recorded here. Again the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book offers us versions of three of them. The first track begins with The Prince’s Almain - the young and ill-fated prince Henry Prince of Wales - probably the composer’s best known work. It’s in a sort of bright D minor. Julian Bream began his above record with this piece. Nigel North gives it a more delicate performance here. There are other dances like the Satyre’s Dance and the Fairies’ Dance, and a piece called The Noble Man. Each of these is from a masque, Ben Jonson’s ‘Oberon’ for example and George Chapman’s ‘Masque of the Middle Temple’, all from the period 1611-14.

Nigel North plays a seven-course lute for the earliest pieces but later Johnson wrote for the nine or ten-course instrument. The one North uses was made in 2005 but based on a Hans Frei original by Lars Jönsson. No matter which instrument he uses, North can be relied upon to give the listener a blissful and lyrical experience capturing the differing moods of piece with character and élan.

Gary Higginson

See also review by Jonathan Woolf.


































































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.