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

£11 post-free anywhere
Normal service resumed


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas


Recordings of the Month


Che fai tù? - Villanelles

Cyrillus KREEK
The suspended harp of Babel

violin concertos - Ibragimova

Peteris VASKS
Viola concerto - Maxim Rysanov

The Complete Lotte Schöne


Beethoven String Quartets

Produzioni Armoniche

Seven Symphonic Poems

Shostakovich VC1 Baiba Skride
Tchaikovsky Symph 5 Nelsons

Vivaldi Violin Concertos




Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

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


CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

Camille SAINT-SAňNS (1835-1921)
String Quartet No 1 in E minor, Op 112 [33:57]
String Quartet No 2 in G major, Op 153 [28:45]
Fine Arts Quartet
rec. 26-29 October, 2009, Wittem Monastery Library, The Netherlands
NAXOS 8.572454 [62:42]

Experience Classicsonline

Camille Saint-SaŽnsí string quartets are not the chirpy, cheery, tune-laden gems we would expect from the composer. They are not as instantly attractive and romantic as the concertos, nor as easily accessible a combination of formal simplicity and autumnal sorrow as the late woodwind sonatas (available on a superb recent Naxos disc). If anything by Saint-SaŽns can be honestly called challenging, it is these two string quartets. But the rewards are well worth your listening time.

The first quartet, in E minor, opens with a melancholy tune which is spun out of a single high E on the first violin, slowly repeated; all of this is done with mutes. The mutes stay on for quite a bit of the allegro proper, though the secondary material offers more vigor and contrapuntal detail. There is a really compelling drama in this first movement, but until the dramatic finish it is often understated and repeated listens really do help fully size up the importance of Saint-SaŽnsí thinking here. The scherzo has a short, good tune for a hook, and some formidable licks by violin and viola; it is also capable of a near-Brahmsian sternness, and the trio is a fugue. The slow movement provides a major-key respite, but it doesnít go in for easy sentimentality either, and the finale doesnít let up. This is a dark, deeply introspective piece which should surprise anybody who thinks Saint-SaŽns is a lightweight; the quartet, violinist Ralph Evans has said in an interview, will ďchange minds in a hurry.Ē Indeed.

The second string quartet, in G, is cheerier but not much closer to the stereotype we have of Saint-SaŽns. It sounds more Russian than French, especially the leaping tune which begins the first movement and the somber hymn-like tune which appears in the adagio; speaking of which, the molto adagio is more overtly pretty here than in the first quartet, and spiked with a faster central section, the transition out of which (and through to the end of the movement) is a very fine piece of lyrical writing. The finale provides a sober but reassuring finish to the work, founded on a rather exotic tune in fifths.

The Fine Arts Quartet are up to their usual impressive standards: this is an ensemble with a rich, velvety, unabashedly romantic sound, and often seems incapable of being anything other than achingly beautiful. In the last two minutes of the Second Quartetís adagio they are breathtaking. Iíd listen to them play nearly anything from this time period, and they validate that trust here. The recorded sound (intriguingly, the sessions were in a monastery library) is intimate, warm, and ideally suited to the quartetís unique style; the notes are by the ubiquitous Keith Anderson, and the look at an unexplored side of Saint-SaŽns, by a quartet of this caliber, is not to be missed.

Finally it seems appropriate to note that Wolfgang Laufer, the superb cellist who was a member of the Fine Arts Quartet since 1979, died on 8 June this year, soon after the release of this disc and the recording of two more Naxos albums (Schumann and Kreisler). He was one of three Fine Arts players ó along with the two violinists Ralph Evans and Efim Boico ó who had been in the quartet together for over thirty years. His, then, will be a hard chair to replace. Let us hope that the Fine Arts Quartetís unmistakable sound will live on.

Brian Reinhart


































































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.