One of the most grown-up review sites around

52,670 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Editor in Chief: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider

£11 post-free anywhere
(currently suspended)


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

Works for Voice by György Kurtág


Best Seller

Cyril Scott piano music

Hahn Complete Songs

Piano Sonatas 6,7,8 Osborne

Symphony for solo piano


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

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

Scott WHEELER (b.1952)
Serenata (1993) [18:02]
[2] Sunday Songs (1999) [18:43]
Heaven and Earth (2007) [16:20]
Singing to Sleep (1984) [excerpts] [8:34]
Litany (2006) [5:38]
Wasting the Night (1990) [1:38]
Mozart, 1935 (1997) [1:53]
Turning Back (2007) [14:05]
William Sharp (baritone)
Susanna Phillips (soprano)
Joseph Kaiser (tenor)
Krista River (mezzo-soprano)
Donald Berman (piano)
rec. SUNY, New York, October 2008 (Singing to Sleep, Turning Back); February 2009 (Sunday Songs, Heaven & Earth, Wasting the Night), July 2009 (Serenata, Litany, Mozart). DDD

Experience Classicsonline

According to Scott Wheeler, his song-writing was inspired by Cole Porter and rock and pop music of the 1960s and 1970s - but that should not discourage the inquisitive music fan from considering this CD. Naxos may be stretching meanings a little to release it in their American Classics range, especially given that three of the eight items are less than five years old, but there is much of quality here.

Wheeler was taught song-setting privately by Virgil Thomson, whose method Wheeler describes in the notes as "focusing on vocal range, groupings of syllables, and placement of vowels." The benefits of Thomson's wisdom are highly apparent throughout this disc: apart from Litany, Wheeler's music is imaginative, varied, pungent, lyrical; yet communication remains paramount and as a testimony to the not-always-deserving poetry, every word can be clearly understood.

Clarity is enhanced by two further factors: firstly, the recording is high-quality and well-balanced. Secondly, Donald Berman is the constant pianist. He is immensely experienced in this kind of repertoire, and is undaunted by the difficulty of much of the music.

Soprano Susanna Phillips has a clear, attractive voice and great interpretive ability. She is outstanding in both sets she performs. The first of these are the two Sunday Songs, both settings of Emily Dickinson. Phillips also performs Wasting the Night, five poignant poems about love and time by Edna St Vincent Millay. This is some of the best poetry on the disc.

Singing To Sleep is a group of three lullabies, of which only two are included on the CD. These are fine songs, beautifully sung by mezzo Krista River. But why on earth only two? The third song could surely have been squeezed on - if it was particularly lengthy, then it could have taken the place of the aptly-named Litany, which feels quite a lot longer than its three and a half minutes, with its repetitive, uninspiring piano accompaniment to Billy Collins's dire humour, along the lines of Sondheim meets Flanders & Swann, and unendearingly delivered by baritone William Sharp.

Sharp also sings Mozart 1935, Wheeler's setting of a rather arch poem by Wallace Stevens. Sharp is an acquired taste; as technically good as his voice is, whatever he sings he tends to sound like he is performing Sondheim. So it was with Litany, and so it is also with this song, although in his notes Wheeler indicates that he meant to suggest Kurt Weill. It's Hollywood, either way. The largest dose of Sharp comes with Serenata. which opens the disc. This is both longer and a little more interesting than Mozart, certainly as far as the music goes. The poems are by Mark Van Doren, and may be a little too pretentious for many palates.

Joseph Kaiser has a much more expressive voice. He sings Heaven and Earth, a cycle of four settings of William Blake, to great effect. And Wheeler's music captures the strangeness of Blake's ideas.

The CD ends with Turning Back, four poems by Hilda Doolittle. Wheeler dedicated these to Krista River, who premièred them and performs them here. Her voice is quite similar to Susanna Phillips's, which is a compliment. Musically, this cycle is another highlight of the disc, and it is a pity that the texts are "not available" for these particular songs - presumably for copyright reasons.














































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.