Schubert sonatas

Newest Releases

Piano solo and duet
  Founder: Len Mullenger
Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Some items
to consider

Free classical music concerts by Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra.

British composers

  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo
  • Stellar debut<br>piano recital
  • Clarinet transcriptions Jonathan Cohler
  • Jonathan Cohler & Claremont Trio
  • French clarinet masterpieces
  • Today's leading<br>clarinet-piano duo

Shostakovich Symphony 10 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem

Dvorak Opera Premiere

Grieg, Mendelssohn sonatas




Would you like a hyperlinked weekly summary of the CDs we have reviewed?

Click for further details

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on

Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical


Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Cameo Classics
Prima voce
Red Priest
Toccata Classics

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
Classical Editor
Rob Barnett
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Stan Metzger
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

A Song of Farewell - Music of Mourning and Consolation
Contents list at end of review
Gabrieli Consort/Paul McCreesh
rec. 8-10 November 2011, Lady Chapel of Ely Cathedral. DDD
SIGNUM SIGCD 281 [75:56]

Experience Classicsonline

The first thing to realise is that this is a ‘concept’ album - all very trendy and popular at present. It comes in a white hard-covered booklet with the disc tidily attached inside. The paper is good quality and the texts are in English only with trendy monochrome photos of the performers and of misty-moisty mornings in Ely.
You could argue that Paul McCreesh is not new to this kind of disc. I’m thinking particularly of his dazzlingly successful ‘A Venetian Coronation 1595’ originally on Virgin Classics (1990). There’s also his slightly overlooked but wonderful recording of ‘Venetian Easter Mass’ (1997) on Archiv. Whereas these earlier discs were stylistically consistent this new one is a bit of a dog’s dinner with Robert White rubbing shoulders with Jonathan Dove. In the accompanying notes - which take the form of an interview between McCreesh and Gregg Skidmore a member of the Gabrieli Consort and a Ph.D. student - Skidmore comments that the title ‘is not especially cheery’. Even so, McCreesh’s point is well made that this music acts as a consolation for those who are confronting death either personally or with a loved one - that is the power of music. We need to “seek God’s protection from the perils of life’s journey”.
The disc begins with two settings of Drop, Drop Slow Tears by Gibbons and Walton. Further consolation is to be found in MacMillan’s glorious A Child’s Prayer which was composed after the Dunblane massacre to remember the dead. Then we have a calm and dignified performance of Morley’s Funeral Sentences still in use today in various churches. A complete Requiem one of the most moving of all time by Herbert Howells. It includes a setting of Psalm 23 sometimes known in its hymnal guise as Crimond and used at funerals everywhere. The text of John Sheppard’s comforting and blissful In Manus tuas, an evening hymn includes the lines “Into your hands O Lord I commend my spirit”. Indeed I could go through each piece and wax lyrical. Instead I will say that the CD could be enjoyed simply track by track, or, and this is rarely recommendable, straight through in one sitting, I did both and especially appreciated the latter before retiring for a easy night’s sleep.
This appeared at first to be a self-indulgent disc by a choir whose real expertise lies in what some people regard as rather cerebral early music and who are out to indulge themselves in slow, mournful and expressively unvaried pieces. In fact it becomes a fascinating mélange of approaches to the subject of death and of how we each face it. It should be said immediately that the singing is exemplary and the recorded balance flawless, set as it is in the perfect acoustic of the Chapter House at Ely. It is good to have the texts as no matter how good the choir, counterpoint and resonance can often smother even the best of diction.
The longest work is the Howells. One must ask how it bears up, coming as it does towards the end of a rather ‘weepy’ programme. There are several versions of it on the market but can we ignore this one just because of the context of its presentation? When I listen to this work I feel that it is the most beautiful piece I’ve ever heard. I thought that the version by The Finzi Singers on Chandos under Paul Spicer (CHAN 9019) was unbeatable but this new one is certainly its equal. It is beautifully paced, and the solo work which can be a weakness is ideal; the balance, just lovely. I prefer it in fact, as it is unhurried and even more expressive than Spicer being almost four minutes slower in performance.
Finally to Parry’s Songs of Farewell written towards the end of his life. The Parry gives this disc its title. Lord let me know mine end, the last of the set of six is rather less well known. It’s a challenging piece. Here it is given an emotional reading which exemplifies what McCreesh says in his conversation: that he often exhorts professional singers to remember, as they can become overly familiar with some texts, to sing with passion.
So, a fine disc this. I concur with other reviewers on this site in saying no less than ‘buy it’.
Gary Higginson 

See also reviews by Nick Barnard and John Quinn

Contents list

Orlando GIBBONS (1583-1623)
Drop, Drop Slow Tears
William WALTON (1902-1983)
A Litany: Drop, Drop Slow Tears
Robert WHITE (c.1538-1574)
Christe, qui lux es et dies
James MACMILLAN (b. 1959)
A Child’s Prayer
John SHEPPARD (1515-1505)
In Manus Tuas [4:05]
Jonathan DOVE (b. 1959)
Into thy hands
Thomas MORLEY (1557-1602)
Funeral Sentences
Sir Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
They are at Rest
Herbert HOWELLS (1892-1983)
Sir Hubert PARRY (1848-1918)
Lord let me know mine end








































































































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.