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


MDT AmazonUS

Oscar’s Orchestra Vols 1 & 2
Dudley Moore (Oscar), Colin McFarlane (Thadius Vent/Tank), Elly Fairman (Rebecca), Michael Kilgarriff (Mr Crotchet), Murray Melvin (Lucius), David de Keyser (narrator)
Director: Tony Collingwood
Language: English
Region: Region 0
Format: Colour, Dolby 2.0 Stereo, NTSC 4:3 FF
WARNER CLASSICS 2564 67789-6/7 [4 DVDs: ca 591:00]

Experience Classicsonline

This is a production from 1995 which was broadcast on the CBBC channel. It was made by Collingwood O’Hare Entertainment Ltd. UK viewers may know of them from other series such as ‘Dennis & Gnasher’ based on Beano comic character Dennis the Menace, ‘Zed and the ZeeZone’, ‘The Secret Show’ and others. Having already moved abroad by that time I missed this first time around, but by all accounts it seems to have been universally appreciated for its non-patronising angle and qualities of writing and production.

Oscar’s Orchestra is quite a sophisticated animated series which contains one huge but benign contradiction. The action is set in a far ‘silent’ future under the cruel dictatorship of a spoilt and cowardly character called Thadius Vent who has banned all music. The entire action takes place to a background of innumerable recordings of well chosen classical scores, so the whole thing happens in an environment of almost wall-to-wall very fine music, which is a large part of the point. A sense of gloom and menace is established early on for instance with Mars from Holst’s The Planets, as are other minor-key masterpieces such as Mussorgsky’s Night on a Bare Mountain later on. The Planets gets pretty much its own episode in ‘Star Tours’. Shostakovich is leant on heavily for chase scenes, and there are plenty of little recurring references which maintain a sense of familiarity and identity with the characters. The inner liner of these DVDs lists the music used though not the musicians or orchestras. Seen in its entirety the programme forms something of a condensed collection of the greatest all-time classics ever. Names such as Stravinsky, Poulenc and Widor pop up as well as the more expected Beethoven, Saint-Saëns, Dukas and Brahms. All of the works should be familiar to classical music fans, and part of the fun is trying to identify each piece without cheating by looking at the listings. There are plenty of illustrative pieces made grateful use of by the story writers such as Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumble-Bee and Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries, but you need plenty of this kind of thing when there’s a flying piano involved.

Aside from the noisy silence and flights of fantasy, if one wants to be really pedantic there are further contradictions. For instance, our heroes go back in time to meet Mozart. Miscalculating their arrival in the past, they miss the mature composer by a few years and find the child Mozart playing at a harpsichord, and as a result can be given some useful facts about the invention of the piano – yet to occur. Fascinated to see this newfangled instrument which he first mistakes for a table, little Mozart has a go, giving us few bars of the Sonata in D major K448 which is for two pianos, let alone having been written in 1781 when Mozart was 21. Such petty point scoring is ridiculous, and the most important thing is that this is a children’s entertainment which is also a very rich vein of high quality music. It can be absorbed almost subconsciously, but can, I hope, also awaken an interest in a wider world of music than the latest pop hits or peer group trends.

Equally important is that these fragmented masterpieces are linked to stories which are genuinely engaging. I was fortunate to be able to road test these DVDs on my daughter aged 9. After the usual initial resistance to untried material, she gave in to curiosity about the unusual narratives coming from daddy’s laptop and soon became quite involved, forcing a suspension of writing activities. I’ve since heard quite a few parental anecdotes of ‘oh yes, X used to love that series’, so it would seem that the magic is still there 16 years on.

My copies of Oscar’s Orchestra arrived in two separate DVD cases with two discs in each. This is not every episode ever made, but does give you a lion’s share of the first two series, and with 26 episodes at 22 minutes each these are substantial enough collections. Much is made of Dudley Moore playing the part of the central character and he is indeed ideally cast, but the band of ‘illegal instruments’ and his human friends and enemies are all given plenty of idiosyncratic character foibles and are superbly acted. There’s also quite a long list of guest actors including Rik Mayall, Edward Fox, Ruby Wax and Robert Lindsay. Sound quality is good, and the action is also given nice cinematic stereo touches, with machines zipping from one side to the other and the like. I am altogether impressed by these DVDs and firmly recommend them both as good fun, and for the broadening of your child’s musical landscape.

Dominy Clements


































































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.