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
Download from the Chandos shop

Bernard HERRMANN (1911-1975)
Moby Dick - A Cantata for male chorus, soloists and orchestra (1936-38) [46:20]
Sinfonietta for Strings (1936) [16:50]
Richard Edgar-Wilson (tenor) - Ishmael/Starbuck
David Wilson-Johnson (baritone) - Ahab
Poul Emborg (tenor) - Harpooner/Sailor/Voice
Rasmus Gravers (tenor) - Pip
Uffe Henriksen (tenor) - Drunken Sailor
Danish National Choir
Danish National Symphony Orchestra/Michael Schønwandt
rec. Koncerthuset, DR Byen, Copenhagen, 8 January (Moby Dick) and 15-16 March (Sinfonietta) 2011. SACD Hybrid Multi-channel
CHANDOS CHSA5095 [63:10]

Experience Classicsonline

This new CD coincides with the release on The Barbirolli Society’s own label of his recording of Herrmann’s Moby Dick with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra in Carnegie Hall on 14 April 1940. Barbirolli had premiered the cantata with that orchestra three days earlier. The conductor claimed that Moby Dick was “the most important musical work he had heard from a young musical composer.” Later, in 1967 Herrmann, as conductor, was to record the work for Unicorn-Kanchana with a cast that included John Amis as Ishmael and David Kelly as Ahab. This new recording has the benefit of Chandos’s best super audio sound.
In passing it is worth noting the close bond between Barbirolli and Herrmann detailed in Steven C. Smith’s illuminating biography of Bernard Herrmann, A Heart at Fire’s Centre. Smith describes how Herrmann, who lived for a portion of his life in England, was a friend of Barbirolli and was something of an Anglophile. He had such a broad knowledge and love of British music and English literature as to cause even experts to shrink with awe.
Herman Melville’s novel, Moby Dick, the dark story of a sea captain’s obsession with hunting down the great white whale, Moby Dick, had been a childhood favourite of the composer. As a young man Herrmann’s father had served on whaling ships.
Some might be tempted to compare the work with Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony. Both works are about the sea and its moods. Both works begin imposingly with a grand statement. Whereas the Vaughan Williams piece is shot through with light, positive mysticism and hope, Herrmann’s cantata is much darker, an allegory concerned with man’s puny ineffective revolts against God and the elements. That opening chorus and orchestral introduction sets the mood - ‘And God created great whales’ pictures a dark rolling sea and a dire warning. Moby Dick was conceived for a large orchestra, chorus and soloists. The two main characters are Ishmael, first mate to the other principal in the drama, Captain Ahab who is in relentless pursuit of the great white whale. The work, as recorded here, is cast in eleven parts. The story moves from that opening chorus, Ishmael’s ghostly introduction and his haunted recollections to the whale-men’s at first doleful hymn before defiance, to the voyage itself, the search and, ultimately to the struggle with Moby Dick himself.
The harmonies and orchestrations are very typically Herrmann, the composer preferring unfamiliar but telling groups of instruments. This is particularly true of the woodwinds and strings in their low, sometimes extremely low, registers, bass drums and muted snarling brass. The pitching and tossing of the ship in dark mountainous churning, rolling seas is thus vividly evoked. There is some relief in a scherzo-like section ‘Hist boys! Let’s have a jig!’. Even here the voices and feet seemed grounded and dogged by fate. Later, in the ‘Equator: Pacific Ocean’ movement, the sea is tranquil for a while, the ship seemingly becalmed - woodwinds suggesting slight zephyrs.
It is noteworthy that even in 1936-8 Herrmann, in Moby Dick, was creating sonorities that anticipated his music for Hitchcock thrillers like Vertigo and Psycho.
Both Richard Edgar-Wilson and David Wilson-Johnson are most convincing and imposing and their articulation is well-nigh perfect. Michael Schønwandt and his Danish performers deliver an exciting and often chilling performance of this undervalued concert work by a man who regarded himself ‘as a composer who worked in films’. He was much more than that and his potential as composer was probably never fully realised. He was his own worst enemy; his irascible nature hardly won him friends and support.

The album is rounded off with the world premiere of the original version of Herrmann’s Sinfonietta composed in 1935-36 for String Orchestra. This work was influenced by the once avant-garde music of Arnold Schoenberg and his followers. Thankfully it was a short-lived flirtation. The Sinfonietta was Herrmann’s first published work but it never had a public performance. It remains a curiosity but like Moby Dick it is darkly powerful. It lay dormant until 1960 when Herrmann was commissioned to write the score for the film, Psycho. Alert ears will detect material in the Scherzo - creepy high strings with occasional dropped pizzicatos - that closely resembles that bleakly presaging material for Janet Leigh’s drive towards the Bates Motel where she will take that fateful shower. Music later in the Sinfonietta was used by Hermann to underscore cues like ‘The Madhouse’ and ‘The Swamp’.

Herrmann in darkest, starkest mood. A chilling ride but an illuminating glimpse of the irascible, but highly talented composer away from the film studio.
Ian Lace 















































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.