One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,416 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider


paid for


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

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets

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



Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat



Recordings of the Month


From Ocean’s Floor


Conner Riddle Songs

Rodzinski Sibelius

Of Innocence and Experience


Symphonies 1, 2, 3


CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS

Joan Sutherland - A Portrait
see end of review for details
rec. 1959/60
REGIS RRC3013 [3 CDs: 70.15 + 52.27 + 49.49]

Experience Classicsonline

This set documents the brilliance and fluency of the young Joan Sutherland’s performances. All made in the period 1959/61 when the singer was in her early thirties, they show what an outstanding technique she combined with the famous evenness of tone all the way through the voice. Granted, there is nothing here to match the vividness, acuity and range of colour that Callas brought to these roles. Then again, Sutherland mercifully lacks Callas’s hollow tone and struggle to master her voice.
What is remarkable about the excerpts from Acis and Galatea is how acceptable they are to a modern ear, though we still get the very solid, pure legato classical string tone. Sutherland’s diction is exemplary for its clarity, In fact that is true of most pieces in this set. Few suffer from the oddly occluded diction that pervaded her recordings later on.
Boult’s speeds are quite acceptable, so we get a Galatea of great lyric beauty and technical freedom. Peter Pears’ Acis is not in the same class, but he brings his customary intelligence to the role. Owen Brannigan was sui generis as Polyphemus even though, here, we don’t get O ruddier than the cherry.
The excerpts from Messiah are done in a similar style and are generally classy; Boult used a new edition which did away with the later additions to the score. However I know that my redeemer liveth is done at a rather slow tempo with Sutherland extruding the tone in a manner which verges on the lugubrious. Her ornamentation is rather lavish, but her trills are superb.
Many of Handel’s operas were written for the finest singers of the day. With Sutherland’s account of Alcina we get one of the 20th century’s finest vocalists in a role which suited her. These two arias are recorded with Sir Anthony Lewis, rather than from the later Richard Bonynge recording. Lewis opts for stylistically more correct speeds than Bonynge and Sutherland is at her freshest and most winning.
The Handel disc concludes with an account of Sutherland in Let the Bright Seraphim which is, I think, the one from The Art of the Prima Donna.
One of the frustrations of this set is that the documentation as to what the tracks are is very scanty. The notes say that the third disc in the set consists of excerpts from The Art of the Prima Donna, but gives no source for the second disc, Sutherland singing Verdi and Bellini, though these too appear to be from the same origin. For some reason, Regis has decided to deconstruct the arias from The Art of the Prima Donna so that CD 2 has Verdi and Bellini and CD 3 everything else except Handel. Such things might niggle, but mean that on the second CD we can concentrate on Sutherland singing Verdi and Bellini.
For me, one the advantages of hearing these discs is that the conductor isn’t Richard Bonynge. As far as Sutherland is concerned there is a wonderful freshness and attack about everything, a glorious fluidity and facility. Her excerpts from I Puritani and La Sonnambula are suitably light, but there is a depth and darkness as well to the Norma and to the Verdi singing.
In The Willow Song and in one or two other moments in the Verdi extracts there are hints of the spinto Sutherland, the sort of singer she might have developed into if the famous Lucia had been followed by Lady Macbeth - as Tullio Serafin wanted.
On the last disc, Mozart’s Marten aller Arten is the least successful item, but that is on an absolute scale; by any standards these recordings are amazing. In fact, listening to them is a trifle depressing because Sutherland never did anything quite as good again. On an aria by aria basis, many here are preferable to the ones on later issues.
There is not only technical facility here. Sutherland varies colour and tone so that each item is characteristically shaded and affected. One could listen for hours to the trills, staccatos and scales in The Jewel Song; but this is also a very real Marguerite.
If you have only one Sutherland recording, then you must have The Art of the Prima Donna. If you don’t have a Sutherland recording, then you must have The Art of the Prima Donna. If you buy The Art of the Prima Donna then you get words and a good pair of articles in the CD booklet. If you buy this set, you get rather poorer documentation with no words and just a single article, but you also get substantial excerpts of Sutherland singing Handel. The choice is yours.  

Robert Hugill

Track listing

George Frideric HANDEL (1685-1759)
Acis and Galatea (excerpts) (1)
Rejoice greatly (Messiah) (2)
How beautiful are the feet (Messiah) (2)
I know that my redeemer liveth (Messiah) (2)
If God be for us (Messiah) (2)
Tornami a vagheggiar (Alcina) (3)
Ombre pallide (Alcina) (3)
Let the bright seraphim (Samson) (4)
Giuseppe VERDI (1813 - 1901)
The Willow Song (Otello) (4)
Sempre libera (La Traviata) (4)
Caro Nome (Rigoletto) (4)
Vincenzo BELLINI (1801 - 1835)
Casta Diva (Norma) (4)
Son vergin vezzosa (I Puritani) (4)
Qui la voce (I Puritani) (4)
Come per me sereno (La Sonnambula) (4)
Charles GOUNOD (1818 - 1893)
The Waltz Song (Romeo et Juliet) (4)
Wolfgang Amadeus MOZART (1756 - 1791)
Marten aller Arten (Die Enfuhrung aus dem Serail) (4)
Leo DELIBES (1836 - 1891)
The Bell Song (Lakme) (4)
Giacomo MEYERBEER (1791 - 1864)
O beau pays (Les Huguenots) (4)
Thomas ARNE (1710 - 1778)
The Soldier Tir’d (Artaxerxes) (4)
Gioachino ROSSINI (1792 - 1898)
Bel raggio lusingher (Semiramide) (4)
Charles GOUNOD
Jewel Song (Faust) (4)
Ambroise THOMAS (1811 - 1896)
The Mad Scene (Hamlet) (4) Joan Sutherland (soprano)
Acis - Peter Pears (tenor) (1); Polyphemus - Owen Brannigan (bass) (1); St Anthony Singers (1); Philomusica of London (1, 3); London Symphony Orchestra (2); Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden (4); Sir Adrian Boult (conductor) (1, 2); Sir Anthony Lewis (conductor) (3); Francesco Molinari-Pradelli (conductor) (4)
rec. (1) 1960, (2) 1960, (3) 1959, (4) 1960 The Art of the Primadonna

































































































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.