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


paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

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

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews



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


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom



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

Eloquence recordings
All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month


Cantatas and Organ Works

Complete Songs

Ralph Vaughan Williams

Simone Dinnerstein piano





Chopin Bruce Liu

Ingeneri Volume 2

Mondonville - Titon et L'Aurore

Telemann - French Cantatas 1



CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Download from The Classical Shop

York BOWEN (1884-1961)
Symphony No. 1 in G, Op. 4 (1902) (première recording) [29:58]
Symphony No. 2 in E minor, Op. 31 (1909) [43:12]
BBC Philharmonic/Sir Andrew Davis
rec. 10-11 October 2010, Studio 7, New Broadcasting House, Manchester. DDD.
CHANDOS CHAN 10670 [73:23]

Experience Classicsonline

York Bowen’s music has been enjoying something of a renaissance in recent years, at least on disc, thanks to the efforts of enterprising independent labels such as Chandos, Dutton and Hyperion. This important issue brings us the first-ever recording of his First Symphony and restores the Second Symphony to the catalogue.

The First Symphony was penned while Bowen, then aged eighteen, was still a student at the Royal Academy of Music. It appears that the work had to wait until 2010 for its long-delayed first performance when it was at last revealed thanks to the enterprise of the English Music Festival. Cast in three movements and scored for a moderately sized orchestra it makes an extremely pleasing impression. The first movement is full of charm and ease – and precocious confidence – and the music is most attractive, not least the lovely, graceful second subject, (first heard at 2:15). Throughout the movement the scoring is transparent and commendably light; indeed, this is a feature of the whole work. In his excellent notes Robert Matthew-Walker refers to “a natural warmth of direct expression” and I’d say that’s particularly true of the second movement. This opens with a beguiling theme on the clarinet and the whole movement just seems to sing from start to finish. The finale is lively and engaging; its opening material sounds scherzo-like. Later (at around 4:40 and again at 8:58) there’s a brief passage that’s so reminiscent of Schumann that it sounds almost like a direct quote.

This symphony may not be, perhaps, a work to set the world alight but it’s charming and very skilfully fashioned and much too enjoyable to languish unplayed on a library shelf somewhere. Sir Andrew Davis and the excellent BBC Philharmonic make the best possible case for it.

Seven years separate the two symphonies and it would appear that this period of time saw a step-change in Bowen’s compositional skills and confidence. The First Symphony was assured but its successor is assertive, especially in the first and last of its four movements. The scoring is much more expansive in the later work, including a very resourceful and effective harp part and a six-strong horn section – Bowen played the horn, as well as the viola, to professional standard as well as being a prodigiously talented pianist.

The first movement of the Second lasts only about a minute longer than the corresponding movement of the First but it feels more expansive and ambitious. Bowen seems to me to handle his material with confidence and he scores the music effectively and, indeed, with some flair. There’s an urgency and power in the writing that wasn’t present in the previous symphony and Bowen’s readiness to use the brass section is especially noticeable - arguably the brass writing is a bit over-enthusiastic at times.

The second movement starts with a ripe horn solo – how Bowen must have enjoyed allocating the melody to his own instrument! – underpinned by what Robert Matthew-Walker rightly calls “a richly upholstered texture”. It’s an impressive movement, containing a couple of passionate, though not overwrought climaxes. My ear was caught particularly by Bowen’s evocative writing for the harp. The scherzo, which comes next, is deft and light – one imagines an early twentieth-century Mendelssohn. The music is expertly scored – note the effective and rather unusual writing for the contrabassoon. The entire movement is a delight, right up to the delicate final pay-off. The finale is sweeping and confident. Again, Bowen’s scoring, if somewhat on the full side at times, is most interesting and resourceful and the melodic impulse of the music is strong, as has been the case throughout the symphony. The movement is given an ardent performance by Davis and the BBC Philharmonic, who play with great conviction but, to be honest, that statement is equally applicable to the entire performance.

The Second Symphony has been recorded before, by Douglas Bostock (review). His version, through which I first got to know the piece, is a good one but it’s no longer available, I believe, and it was not included in the recent boxed set that contained many of Bostock’s recordings of English music (review). In any case, the coupling of the First Symphony on this new Chandos is a more logical one and this, plus the quality of Sir Andrew Davis’s performance, would make it a clear first choice anyway. I learned from Brian Wilson’s review of the download version of this release that Chandos originally planned to invite the late Vernon Handley to conduct these recordings and that after his death Rumon Gamba was mooted as a replacement. But while I’m sure either of those conductors would have done Bowen’s music full justice by no stretch of the imagination should Sir Andrew Davis be thought of as a third choice. He conducts with great belief in the scores, both of which he invests with life, energy and a strong lyrical impulse. His contribution to this release is absolutely first class and further enhances his reputation as a formidable champion of British music.

I’m sure Sir Andrew would be quick to acknowledge the superb, responsive and committed playing by the BBC Philharmonic. So assured is their playing that one might think these were repertoire pieces. They’re very far from that and they’re never likely to be. My advice to admirers of York Bowen’s music and, indeed, to anyone interested in British music of the twentieth century, would be to snap up this excellent release without delay. These symphonies may not quite rank with the great symphonies by Elgar, Vaughan Williams or Walton but they have a great deal to offer and will reward careful listening.

The Chandos recordings are in the finest traditions of the house and, as I’ve already indicated, the booklet notes are first class.

John Quinn












































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.