MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


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

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

Robert CRAWFORD (b.1925)
String Quartets: No. 1 (1949) [26.15]; No. 2 (1956-7) [16.58]; No. 3 (2008) [19.39]
The Edinburgh Quartet
rec. St. Michael’s Parish Church, Inverness, 10-12 March 2010
DELPHIAN DCD 34091 [63.00]

Experience Classicsonline

Influences? I first thought of Bartók, certainly the 1st Quartet started a little like him. However, in the way that the opening movement is constructed I thought of Elizabeth Maconchy 2nd Quartet - just a simple four-note fragment F-D-E-F. The work is not twelve-tone but is dedicated to Benjamin Frankel - who himself wrote five quartets - Crawford’s teacher for a while at the Guildhall School of Music and to whom he owes an enormous debt of support. Frankel, anyway, took a laissez-faire view of serial technique. Back in Edinburgh where the quartet was completed in late 1949 it was Hans Gál with whom he once studied privately that might have been an influence. This can be heard in the lyrical Adagio cantabile of the same work. Walton was also the rage at the time and Crawford writes a rather creepy but passionate fugue for the slow finale. The Scherzo may also be Bartókian but some of the rhythmic interplay is Waltonian.

But ... but … but this is all nonsense really, Crawford has a unique voice and one which has been hidden away for too long. I myself had failed to hear any of his music until I reviewed earlier this year (2011) the Metier disc of some of his works with recorder and clarinet (msv 28520). Speaking of the 1st Quartet it is a four movement work for which the composer asks, at the top of the score, according to Adam Binks’ excellent booklet essay, for the minimum of vibrato. It is sometimes a freely atonal work yet a key-centre can normally be detected through its chromaticism.

For me the 2nd Quartet does not quite work. It is in three movements of ever-increasing speed: Adagio, Allegretto and finally Allegro molto marked Scherzando. It is based partially on a 12-tone row. From that point of view it is a child of the 1950s. The music is never atonal however. In fact the row is heard as a ground bass in the first movement - a little like Robert Simpson might have done - and is also treated imitatively. The Leggiero middle movement is described by Adam Binks as a “mischievous Scherzo” which I agree with. Then he says, about the rondo form finale, that it is a climax of “mounting tension”. I cannot see his point; he enjoins us to discover that the ‘tension is “released only in the final bars”. Well, I’m sorry but I feel no tension in this performance or in this rather genial work. The final Scherzando ends in an under-stated, rather matter-of-fact manner. I felt that another more exciting, say Presto movement, is needed to crown the work.

So it was with slightly mixed feelings that I approached the 3rd Quartet. Not that the Edinburgh Quartet, who know the composer’s work well, or the recording and its acoustics would be the problem; quite the reverse as these performers and this venue are exemplary. The former I have heard in Hans Gál and elsewhere. The venue has been used before. Indeed I know the fine, Ninian Comper-inspired episcopal church very well. I was however concerned that the music should ‘grab’ me a little more. Well, I’m sorry to say that it doesn’t entirely do that. This is a melancholy and at times moving four-movement piece based in a vague way on a tone row. It has a fleeting and crepuscular Scherzo which comes second but which fails to lighten in any way the atmosphere. Set this alongside a tense Mesto third movement and a Moderato finale which only serves to recapitulate the mood of the rest. There seems to be no particular moment of climax or of excitement. Certainly the music does not ramble but the form seems unclear. On the other hand it is a work to which I will happily return. Probably you will feel a little muddled by my comments but that’s what music does to us sometimes.

So the CD comes with some reservations from me. It is worth pursuing and persevering with and I hope that the newly completed 4th Quartet is recorded in the near future.

Gary Higginson




















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

Past 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.