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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

Bedřich SMETANA (1824-1884)
Operas, music for orchestra, chamber and piano music
rec. various locations, 1933-1997, ADD/DDD
Track listing at end of review
MEMBRAN 223513 [10 CDs: 667:00]

Experience Classicsonline

After Membran’s good value Sibelius budget wallet-box (review) I felt I had to cast my nets again in their direction. The impecunious collector who can live with nil documentation apart from track-lists, stingy tracking and a hotch-potch of provenances and ages of recording will find lots to satisfy and surprise in this Smetana set.

Talich’s wartime Má Vlast is pretty vividly recorded sufficient to carry what is a truly passionate performance. Delicacy and vivid detailing are lambently captured against the discreet surface burble. One can for example feel the throbbing noon-day passion in the opening of From Bohemia's Woods and Fields. Composer-conductor Otakar Ostrčil turns in a sparklingly delirious and charmingly captivating Bartered Bride across discs 2 and 3. It’s packed with seductively innocent folksy invention – try the disarming Duettino from Act 3 (CD 3 tr. 5) as just one example. There are no weak links in the singer complement. Fascinating to hear singers from a generation earlier than which dominated the 1950s and 1960s Supraphons. The sound is very impressive for a recording made nearly eight decades ago. While the Bartered Bride stands in the operetta tradition – though the rustic wing of the family – Dalibor (on CDs 4 and 5) pays homage to the defiant line of nationalism espoused by Melartin in Finland and Verdi in Italy. I see that the work was condemned for being too Germanic and Wagnerian but I don’t hear it except somewhat in Act II. Rather one catches occasional echoes of Má Vlast and even of Grieg and Dvorák. As in Má Vlast the harp also puts in a telling appearance more than once. The sound quality from 1950 is commensurately improved on the 1933 Bartered Bride though there is a halo of distortion around the orchestral climaxes.

Moving onwards to the 1975 Triumphal Symphony we are now into 1970s analogue and pretty decent stereo sound. It’s not Smetana’s finest work but is worth a listen even if it is more of an extended 41 minute suite than something with symphonic moment. Its bombastic confidence is not helped by Membran’s decision to present the whole work in one long track. Pity that each movement was not made separately accessible. A curiosity rather than a compelling discovery. Hakon Jarl is one of Smetana’s tone poems which some of us will recall featuring on a DG LP (2530 248 since reissued on DG Galleria 437254) conducted by Kubelik who had also recorded them in 1943 (Supraphon and reissued again in 2009). The conductor here is Alois Klima whose recording of Josef Suk’s War Triptych on a Supraphon LP (SUAST50476) has long merited issue on CD. Its one-time companions on DG vinyl can be found on CD 7 along with some very rare works that I do not recall encountering in any other form. First we hear two of his finest tone poems outside Má Vlast: Richard III works superbly well and certainly deserves to be counted in the same gruff company as Tchaikovsky’s Hamlet. Wallenstein's Camp works about as well as D’Indy’s tone poem on the same subject. Frantisek Vajnar does his best but Smetana gives vent to material that again teeters on the edge of bombast and repetition. Then come three rarely heard marches - all pretty florid and unsubtle. They’re fun but brace yourself for that Teutonic glint and strutting swagger. I rather liked the two generically titled orchestral overtures conducted by Hrncir and Krombholc. The second of them – very brief - seems to pay dramatic and sometimes super-heated homage to Schumann. The Prague Carnival recalls the jollier festive moments in the Má Vlast cycle. It’s a mercurial piece with a prominently cherry-cheery violin solo.

CDs 8 and 9 mix unassuming and even inconsequential sharply-despatched low-key polkas and other dances for piano – lots of them – with two orchestral morsels in the light Viennese manner and the ardent Piano Trio in G minor. The Trio is in a single track running to 27:44. It should have been one track per movement. As for the performance values these are intensely lyrical. By the time we get to the last disc we are used to the one-track-per-work pattern. The 1997 recording of the Duo sings with as much piercing emotion as the Trio. The date of the Talich Quartet’s From My Life is not volunteered but the four players’ way with this music is in neon, upfront and personal. The recording comes complete with applause. This quartet together with the Mendelssohn Octet was amongst the few chamber works that I favoured when I first discovered classical music. It was good to make its acquaintance afresh. Such a moving piece. The Panocha Quartet steer the somewhat darker but no less poignant Second Quartet through and around the same emotional shoals and reefs. The audience makes its laryngeal presence felt between movements.

The only collection of its type in the catalogue. Dip in and you are unlikely to be disappointed. An adventurer’s bargain.

Rob Barnett


CD 1 72:06
Má Vlast / My Fatherland
1. I. Wyschehrad / Vysehrad
2. II. Die Moldau / The Moldau / Vltava
3. III. Scharka / Sarka
4. IV. Aus Böhmens Hain und Flur / From Bohemia's Woods and Fields
5. V. Tábor
6. VI. Blaník
Czech Philharmonic/Václav Talich
recorded in 1941

CD 2 78:18
Die verkaufte Braut / The Bartered Bride - Komische Oper in 3 Akten / Comic Opera in Three Acts - Complete Recording in Czech
1. Ouvertüre / Overture
1. Akt / Act 1
1. Szene / Scene 1
2. Seht am Strauch die Knospen springen / Look, the shrubs, buds do blossom
(Marie, Hans, Chor / chorus)
2. Szene / Scene 2
3. Rezitativ / recitative: Zum Tanze rufen sie mich heut' umsonst / A dance today?....a request in vain (Marie, Hans)
4. Arie / aria: Gern ja will ich dir vertrauen, gläubig blicken auf zu dir / Ah my darling, we could grow together (Marie)
5. Duett / duet: Mit der Mutter sank zu Grabe / With the mother, to the grave (Hans, Marie)
3. Szene / Scene 3
6. Terzett / trio: Alles ist so gut wie richtig / Everything's as good as can be (Kezal, Kruschina, Kathinka)
7. Rezitativ / recitative: Freilich! Den Tobias Micha kannt' ich als Kind schon / Of course! I knew Tobias Micha as a child (Kruschina, Kathinka)
8. Terzett / trio: Gekommen wär' er mit mir wie gerne / How dearly he would have liked to come with me (Kezal, Kathinka, Kruschina)
4. Szene / Scene 4
9. Quartett / quartet: Seht, da kommt sie! / Look, she's coming! (Marie, Kathinka, Kruschina, Kezal)
10. Rezitativ / recitative: Mit Hans bin ich vereint! / With Hans I'm together (Marie, Kathinka, Kruschina, Kezal)
5. Szene / Scene 5
11. Tanz und Chor / Dance and chorus: Polka - Herz am Herzen fühlt man schlagen / Heart next to heart, beating close together
2. Akt / Act 2
1. Szene / Scene 1
12. Wie schäumst du in den Gläsern / How you do foam, in your glass (Chor / chorus, Hans, Kezal)
13. Tanz / Dance
2. Szene / Scene 2
14. Teuer Sohn /, my dear (Wenzel)
3. Szene / Scene 3
15. Rezitativ / recitative: Seid der Verlobte ihr / Be her loved one (Marie, Wenzel)
16. Duett / duet: Ich weiß euch einen lieben Schatz / I know a darling just for you (Marie, Wenzel)
4. Szene / Scene 4
17. Duett / duet: Komm, mein Söhnchen / Come, my little son (Hans, Kezal)
18. Rezitativ / recitative: Gieb die thörichte Liebschaft auf / Relent, this love's in vain (Kezal, Hans)
5. Szene / Scene 5
19. Rezitativ und Arie / recitative and aria: Armer Narr, glaubtest du mich zu fangen?....Es muss gelingen! / Poor fool, did you believe I could be caught.... Soon now, my dearest! (Hans)
6. Szene / Scene 6
20. Finale / finale: Nicht zu hitzig! / Don't get excited! (Kezal, Chor / chorus, Hans, Kruschina)
Kruschina (Jan Konstantin, Bariton / baritone) - Kathinka (Marie Pixová, Sopran / soprano) - Marie (Ada Nordenová, Sopran / soprano) - Micha (Zdenek Otava, Bass / bass) - Agnes (Mata Krásonová, Mezzosopran / mezzo soprano) - Wenzel (Jaroslav Gleich, Tenor / tenor) - Hans (Vladimír Toms, Tenor / tenor) - Kezal (Emil Pollert, Bass / bass) - Springer (Karel HruŠka, Tenor
/ tenor) - Esmeralda (Otta Horáková) - Muff (Václav Marek, Tenor) - Chor und Orchester der Nationaloper Prag / Choir and Orchestra of Prague National Opera - Otakar Ostrčil, Dirigent / conductor
recorded in: 1933

CD 3 49:13
3. Akt / Act 3
1. Szene / Scene 1
1. O was mich betrübe! / Oh, how doubts fill me! (Wenzel)
2. Szene / Scene 2
2. Marsch der Komödianten / March of the Comedians: Dem nie genug verehrten
Publikum / For the audience, never admired enough (Springer)
3. Tanz und Produktion der Komödianten / Dance and Production of the Comedians
4. Rezitativ / recitative: Ei, ei, ei, wie reizend! / Well fancy that, how delightful! (Wenzel, Esmeralda, Springer, Muff)
5. Duettino / duet: Alles geht am Schnürchen / Everything runs like clockwork (Esmeralda, Springer)
3. Szene / Scene 3
6. Rezitativ / recitative: Ach, wie wird es mir ergehen? / Oh, how will I fare? (Wenzel, Agnes, Micha)
4. Szene / Scene 4
7. Nein! Es ist erlogen! / No! That's a lie! (Marie, Kruschina, Kathinka, Agnes, Micha, Wenzel)
5. Szene / Scene 5
8. Szene - Arie / Scene - aria: Endlich allein!...Wie fremd und tot ist alles umher / How can I live.How strange and dead is everything here (Marie)
6. Szene / Scene 6
9. So find' ich dich, Feinsliebchen / That's what I feel, my sweetheart (Hans, Marie)
7. Szene / Scene 7
10. Rezitativ / recitative: He, Hans! Du möchtest wohl dein Geld schon haben? / Hey Hans! You want your money back already? (Kezal, Marie)
11. Terzett / trio: Gesegnet, wer liebt und auch vertraut! / Blessed be, those who love and trust! (Hans, Marie, Kezal)
8. Szene / Scene 8
12. Finale und 9. Szene / finale and scene 9: Kommen wir gerne, so kommen wir gleich / Enjoyment is ours?....the sooner the better (Chor / chorus, Agnes, Kathinka, Kruschina, Hans, Marie, Micha)
Kruschina (Jan Konstantin, Bariton / baritone) - Kathinka (Marie Pixová, Sopran / soprano) - Marie (Ada Nordenová, Sopran / soprano) - Micha (Zdenek Otava, Bass / bass) - Agnes (Mata Krásonová, Mezzosopran / mezzo soprano) - Wenzel (Jaroslav Gleich, Tenor / tenor) - Hans (Vladimír Toms, Tenor / tenor) - Kezal (Emil Pollert, Bass / bass) - Springer (Karel HruŠka, Tenor
/ tenor) - Esmeralda (Otta Horáková) - Muff (Václav Marek, Tenor)
Chor und Orchester der Nationaloper Prag/Choir and Orchestra of Prague National Opera/Otakar Ostrčil
recorded in: 1933

CD 4 74:26
Dalibor - Oper in 3 Akten / Opera in Three Acts - Complete Recording in Czech
1. Akt / Act 1
1. Szene / Scene 1
1. Heut hält der König selbst Gericht / Today the judgement will be passed (Chor / chorus, Jutta)
2. Als eine kleine, hilflose arme Waise / An orphan, abandoned (Jutta)
2. Szene / Scene 2
3. Marsch / March
4. Ihr, meine Treuen / You know by now how our kingdom fair (König / King, Chor / chorus, Jutta)
3. Szene / Scene 3
5. Tritt näher, liebes Mädchen / Step forward, without fear (König, Chor / chorus, Milada, Jutta)
6. Spät war es schon / The sun did set (Milada, Chor / chorus, König / King, Jutta)
4. Szene / Scene 4
7. Da ist er schon! / Ah, what a sight (Milada, Chor / chorus, Jutta, Dalibor, König / King)
8. Nicht werd' ich's leugnen / I won't deny it, lies are not my province (Dalibor, Milada)
9. Dich aufzulehnen hast du dich erfrecht! / Committing crime thou hast thus helped thyself (König / King, Dalibor, Milada, Chor / chorus)
10. Nun Dalibor, empfange hier dein Urteil / Thus Dalibor, reads judgement unanimous (Richter / Judge, Chor / chorus, Dalibor)
5. Szene / Scene 5
11. Erbarmen! / Here do you see me bending low (Milada, Richter / Judge, König / King, Chor / chorus)
6. Szene / Scene 6
12. Was hilft es? / What storm here in my bosom is raging (Milada, Jutta)
2. Akt / Act 2
1. Szene / Scene 1
13. Ein rechter Soldat lebt immer im Krieg / Oh, yes, the gayest is this our world (Chor / chorus, Jutta)
14. Da ist mein Liebster / By this gay song (Jutta, Veit)
15. Vernahmst du schon von Dalibor's Geschick? / Of Dalibor's fate didst thou surely hear (Jutta, Veit, Chor / chorus)
16. Ein rechter Soldat lebt immer im Krieg / Oh, yes, the gayest is this our world (Chor / chorus, Veit, Jutta)
Verwandlung / Transformation
2. Szene / Scene 2
17. Merke dir alles, was ich sagte / Here greatest vigilance is needed (Budivoj, Benesch)
18. In den düsteren Mauern / Oh, how saddening is a jailer's life (Benesch)
3. Szene / Scene 3
19. Fertig ist alles / Everything's ready (Milada, Benesch)
König / King (Václav Bednár, Bariton / baritone) - Dalibor (Beno Blachut, Tenor / tenor) - Budivoj (Teodor Šrubar, Bariton / baritone) - Benesch u. Ein Richter / Benesch and a Judge (Karel KalaŠ, Bass / bass) - Veit (Antonín Votava, Tenor / tenor) - Milada (Marie Podvalová, Sopran / soprano) - Jutta (Štefa Petrová, Sopran / soprano)
Chor und Orchester des Prager Nationaltheaters / Prague National Theatre Chorus and Orchestra/Jaroslav Krombholc
recorded in 1950

CD 5 71:50
2. Akt / Act 2
4. Szene / Scene 4
1. Nimm auch die Fackel dort / Oh, goodness! (Milada, Benesch)
5. Szene / Scene 5
2. Wär es wahr? / Here is the violin (Milada, Benesch)
6. Szene / Scene 6
3. Verwandlung / Transformation
4. Verschwunden bist du / Was it he again? (Dalibor)
7. Szene / Scene 7
5. Nehmt dies Geschenk / Accept, I beg, this trifle from my hand (Milada, Dalibor)
6. Dalibor, verzeiht mir / Dalibor, I beg your pardon (Milada, Dalibor)
7. Oh, unnennbarer Zauber der Liebe / Oh, unspeakable charm of love (Milada, Dalibor)
3. Akt / Act 3
1. Szene / Scene 1
8. Mein Herr und König! / Glorious King! (Budivoj, König / King, Benesch, Chor / chorus)
9. Ihr seht mich, Herr / It will be near to forty years (Benesch)
2. Szene / Scene 2
10. Ihr seht, umsonst nicht rief ich euch / At this late hour (König / King)
11. Des Königs würdig / Are you now ready? (Chor / chorus, König / King)
Verwandlung / Transformation
3. Szene / Scene 3
12. Was säum' ich noch? / It's the third night (Dalibor)
4. Szene / Scene 4
13. Wie, Ritter? / Oh, heaven! He shook off his chains (Budivoj, Dalibor)
14. Nun denn, wohlan / Let it so be (Dalibor)
15. Marsch / March
Verwandlung / Transformation
5. Szene / Scene 5
16 Habt ihr noch kein Zeichen / No trace as yet of our convened signal (Milada, Chor / chorus, Jutta, Veit)
6. Szene / Scene 6
17. Milada! / Milada! (Milada, Dalibor, Jutta)
7. Szene / Scene 7
18. Beendet ist der Kampf / Enemy troops (Budivoj, Chor / chorus, Dalibor)
König / King (Václav Bednár, Bariton / baritone) - Dalibor (Beno Blachut, Tenor / tenor) - Budivoj (Teodor Šrubar, Bariton / baritone) - Benesch u. Ein Richter / Benesch and a Judge (Karel KalaŠ, Bass / bass) - Veit (Antonín Votava, Tenor / tenor) - Milada (Marie Podvalová, Sopran / soprano) - Jutta (Štefa Petrová, Sopran / soprano)
Chor und Orchester des Prager Nationaltheaters / Prague National Theatre Chorus and Orchestra/Jaroslav Krombholc
recorded in: 1950

CD 6 59:21
1. Triumfálni symfonie (Triumph-Sinfonie E-Dur / Triumphal Symphony in E major)
2. Hakon Jarl - Sinfonische Dichtung / Symphonic Poem
Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra of Prague
Josef Hrnčír (1), Alois Klíma (2)
recorded in 1975 (2), 1980 (1)

CD 7 60:46
1. Richard III - Sinfonische Dichtung / Symphonic Poem
2. ValdŠtýnův tábor, op. 14 (Wallensteins Lager / Wallenstein's Camp) - Sinfonische Dichtung / Symphonic Poem
3. Pochod ke slavnostem Shakespearovým (Marsch zur Shakespeare-Feier / Shakespeare Festival March)
4. Pochod národni gardy (Nationalgardemarsch / March of the National Guard)
5. Pochod studentské legie (Marsch der Prager Studenten-Legion / March of the Prague Students' Legion)
6. Slavostní predehra D-Dur (Ouvertüre D-Dur / Overture in D major)
7. Slavostní predehra C-Dur (Fest-Ouvertüre C-Dur / Festive Overture in C major)
8. Pražský karneval (Prager Karneval / Prague Carnival)
Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra of Prague
Dirigenten / conductors: Václav Smetáček (1) - FrantiŠek Vajnar (2) - Petr Vronský (3, 5) - Josef Hrnčír (4, 6) - Jaroslav Krombholc (7) - Rudolf VaŠata (8)
recorded in: 1973 (6), 1974 (1, 7), 1976 (8), 1983 (4), 1984 (2), 1999 (3, 5),

CD 8 55:34
Trois Polkas poétiques, op. 8 (Auszug) / Three Poetic Polkas, op. 8 (excerpt)
1. Nr. 2 g-Moll / No. 2 in G minor
Magda Flemrová, piano
recorded in: 2001
2. Nr. 2 g-Moll / No. 2 in G minor
Karel KoŠárek, piano
recorded in: 2000
3. Capriccio a-Moll / Capriccio in A minor
Anastasiya Kozhusková, piano
recorded in: 2002
4. Polka a-Moll / Polka in A minor
Anna Máchová, piano
recorded in: 1998
5. Polka f-Moll / Polka in F minor
Zdenek Hnát, piano
recorded in: 1969
6. Polka fis-Moll / Polka in F sharp minor
7. Polka F-dur / Polka in F major
Mio Sakamoto, Klavier piano
recorded in: 2001
Trois Polkas de salon, op. 7 (Auszug) / Three Salon Polkas (excerpt)
8. Fis-Dur / in F sharp major
Anna Máchová, piano
recorded in: 1998
Skizzen, op. 5 (Auszug) / Sketches, op. 5 (excerpt)
9. Nr.1 Scherzo-Polka / No. 1 Scherzo Polka
FrantiŠek Rauch, piano
recorded in: 1973
Triumph-Sinfonie E-Dur (Auszug) / Triumphal Symphony in E major (excerpt)
10. III. Scherzo
Student Orchestra of the Pardubice Conservatory,
recorded in: 1994
11. Komposition g-Moll / Composition in G minor
Jana Macharáčková, Hanus Barton, Ales Bárta, Jaromir Klepáč, piano
recorded in 1998
12. Bettina-Polka / Bettina Polka
Jirí Hubička, piano
recorded in: 1978
13. Bettina-Polka / Bettina Polka
Czech Radio Symphony Orchestra of Prague/Josef Hrnčír
recorded in: 1969

CD 9 64:42
české tance II (Böhmische Tänze II (Auszüge) / Bohemian Dances II (excerpts))
1. Nr. 1 Furiant / No. 1 Furiant
2. Nr. 2 Hühnchen / No. 2 The Little Hen
3. Nr. 5 Zwiebelchen / No. 5 The Little Onion
4. Nr. 10 Springtanz / No. 10 Hop Dance
Karel KoŠárek, piano (1, 2, 4) - Veronika Böhmová, piano (3),
recorded in: 2000
5. české tance I (Böhmische Tänze I (Auszüge) / Bohemian Dances I (excerpts))
Nr. 2 Polka a-Moll / No. 2 Polka in A minor - Nr. 3 F-Dur / No. 3 in F major
české tance II (Böhmische Tänze II (Auszüge) / Bohemian Dances II (excerpts))
Nr. 7 Ulan / No. 7 The Lancer - Nr. 8 Umschritt / No. 8 Folk Dance - Nr. 1 Furiant / No. 1 Furiant
Ivan Moravec piano
recorded in: 1974
6. Piano Trio in G minor
Daniel Kallmünzer, piano - Pavla Francu, violin - Simon Kanka, Cello / cello
recorded in: 2000

CD 10 62:23
1. Z domoviny (From the Homeland) Duo for Piano and Violin
Lucie Noveská, Violine / violin - Petr Novák, piano
recorded in: 1997
2. Smyčcový kvartet Nr. 1 „Z mého zivota“ (Aus meinem Leben/ String Quartet No. 1 in E minor “From My Life”
Talich Quartet
3. Smyčcový kvartet Nr. 2 (String Quartet No. 2 in D minor)
Panocha Quartet
recorded in: 1975




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