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


colourful imaginative harmony
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Leticia Gómez-Tagle
Chopin, Liszt, Scarlatti

Bax Piano Music

Guillaume LEKEU

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Acte Prealable returns
with New Releases

Superior performance

Shostakovich 6&7 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem Thielemann

Marianna Henriksson
An outstanding recital

Arnold Bax
Be converted

this terrific disc

John Buckley
one of my major discoveries

François-Xavier Roth
A game-changing Mahler 3


Bryden Thomson


Vaughan Williams Concertos

RVW Orchestral



We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

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
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
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

The Manchester Gamba Book (c.1660)
see end of review for track listing
Dietmar Berger (viola da gamba)
rec. St. Andreas Church, Cologne, Germany 2-5 January 2011
NAXOS 8.572863-64 [79:12 + 80:02]  

Experience Classicsonline

This 2 CD set is a long way from my usual nineteenth and twentieth century haunts of British music. Moreover, I must confess to finding it a bit hard going. However, that is my problem. It is certainly aimed at the specialist listener: one who has devoted his life to studying, thinking about and listening to ‘early music’. In overview, I guess that the reviewer in the ‘Manchester’ Guardian has summed up the general mood of this release well by describing it as ‘lugubrious’ music. Presumably this is not a criticism but a statement of fact.
What is the Manchester Gamba Book? Well for one thing, it is not a collection of ‘Lancastrian’ tunes. What gives the work its Mancunian connection is the fact that the collection of music was bought by the music scholar Dr. Henry Watson and was subsequently deposited as part of the Watson Collection in the Manchester Public Library. It is probably presently residing in a secret location awaiting the reopening of that great library after its major refurbishment.
The manuscript is important for a couple of reasons. Primarily, this is the largest collection of solo viol music surviving from the mid 17th century. Technically, this means that there are 246 pieces written in tablature and a further 12 numbers written in conventional staff notation. Paul Furnas, in the liner-notes, has suggested that the inclusion of a ‘Table of Graces’ (a manual of ornaments) makes this document extremely important for musicologists. Apparently there is only one other such table in existence.
I decided to check up on what a ‘viola da gamba’ actually is. One web page wisely suggested that it is not a fretted cello. The latter instrument has four strings, whereas the viola da gamba has six or seven. In addition, talking of ‘frets’ suggests a guitar. However, this instrument has ‘movable’ frets unlike the guitar: they are made of gut and are tied onto the neck. There is also a different technique for holding the bow - underhand and not overhand. Tuning is another issue altogether and is best left to those who know what they are talking about.
The history of the viol family (there are a number of different sizes) ranges across the 15th to the 18th centuries - or from Henry VIII who was an aficionado to the age of Louis XIV. Many famous composers have written for the viol including Henry Purcell, J.S. Bach, William Byrd and Orlando Gibbons.
Paul Furnas has pointed out that half of the 38 contributors to the Manchester Gamba Book are unknown. However, four of these composers have the surname Read. It is suggested that one of them - a certain Henrie Read was probably the editor and compiler of the manuscript. Further conjecture suggests that Richarde Sumarte, who contributed more than thirty numbers, may have been a ‘resident music teacher’ in the Read household. Sumarte set a number of ‘old English’ songs such as ‘Roben is to the greens-woode gon’ and ‘Whoope doe me no harm’. Other composers mentioned by name in the manuscript included Stephen Goodall, Alfonso Ferrabosco, Willm Younge and Thomas Martine.
The liner-notes suggest that the Paven (CD 2 Track 15) is a little masterpiece. This is apparently the most richly ornamented piece in the viol repertoire.

Dietmar Berger was born in Cologne. After studying the cello at music colleges in Aachen, Düsseldorf and Leipzig, he played in the orchestra of the Landesbühen Sachsen in Dresden. He is now based in his birthplace and plays both cello and viola da gamba. He is a member of the Trio Köln with Gudrun Höbold (violin) and Hubert Käppel (guitar). He has made a number of recordings and has contributed both compositions and arrangements for the instruments.

This double-CD is definitely for the dedicated listener. Without doubt, attending to 159 minutes of viola da gamba music would surely prove a challenge to even the most enthusiastic ‘ancient music’ fan. Yet these tunes allow the listener to enter a world of music that appears so far removed from the classical and romantic eras that dominate the musical scene. There is a timelessness about these characteristically sad, melancholic and reflective pieces that defies time itself. I may not relate to this music personally, but I can see why this collection is so important for scholars and enthusiasts. I can understand why it can be a moving experience for listeners who are attuned to the music’s mood. Certainly, Dietmar Berger plays this music with depth and what I take to be a huge understanding of the technical and historic aspects of the genre. I am sure that listeners who specialise in this music will hope that more of the Manchester Gamba Book will be recorded in the coming years. 

Finally, Naxos has provided a link to the Viola da Gamba Society of America (and not as stated in the liner notes which is a misprint) where listeners who are viol or guitar players can download the tablature of their favourite pieces.
John France

Track listing
Queen Maries Dumpe (R.S.) I-1 [6:27]
A paven (Joseph Sherlie) III-11 [3:54]
Untitled (Stephen Goodall) I-22 [3:17]
Fortune (R.S.) I-3 [5:42]
Roben is to the greens-woode gon (R.S.) I-4 [3:54]
Preludiu (R.S.) I-13 [1:54]
Whoope doe me no harm (R.S.) I-5 [3:31]
Daphne (R.S.) I-6 [3:40]
Monusiers Allman (R. Sumarte) I-7 [3:30]
Lachryme (R.S.) I-9 [3:56]
Solus cum Sola (R.S.) I-11 [3:31]
Coranto (Alfonso Ferrabosco) III-10 [2:10]
Coranto (Alfonso Ferrabosco) III-8 [1:49]
Salte pitts (R.S.) I-8 [1:58]
Untitled (Mr. Elliot, Oxon.) I-21 [3:05]
A thump (Thomas Martine) III-12 [2:51]
Untitled (Stephen Goodall) I-19 [5:15]
A Coranto (G. Gerrarde) II-2 [1:07]
A Coranto (R. Sumarte) II-3 [2:22]
Saraband (Thomas Woodson) I-27 [2:41]
Untitled (Willm Younge) I-26 [3:41]
Untitled (Mr. Elliot, Oxon.) I-17 [3:41]
Untitled (Stephen Goodall) I-16 [5:10]
What if a daye (?) I-2 [4:20]
Malte Man (R. Sumarte) II-1 [2:43]
Untitled (Gervise Gerrarde) III-6 [2:17]
The Buildings (R.S.) I-10 [5:39]
Preludiu (R.S.) I-15 [2:16]
The Nightengale (R.S.) I-12 [4:35]
Untitled (R.S.) I-18 [4:14]
The Kings Maske (R. Sumarte) II-4 [3:21]
Preludiu (Rich. Sumarte) I-25 [1:12]
An Almaine (Joseph Sherlie) III-7 [2:40]
Coranto (G. Willis) III-14 [1:57]
A Saraband (Wilm Kingslake) III-13 [3:27]
Untitled (John Jenkins) XIII-4 [2:54]
Almaine (John Jenkins) XI-1 [3:04]
Paven (Gervise Gerrarde) III-15 [4:53]
Preludium (R.S.) I-14 [1:01]
Coranto (Alfonso Ferrabosco) III-5 [1:25]
Coranto (Alfonso Ferrabosco) III-3 [1:32]
Saraband (John Jenkins) X-9 [6:50]
Untitled (R.S.) I-23 [4:12]
Untitled (Stephen Goodall) I-20 [6:37]
Untitled (Anonymous) XVI-1 [3:08]
A Saraband (Wilm Younge) I-24 [5:52]
(R.S) is certainly Richard Sumarte.


























































































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.