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

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

César FRANCK (1822-1890)
Piano Quintet in F minor (1878-79) [36:10]
Violin Sonata in A major (1886) [29:07] *
The Schubert Ensemble (*William Howard (piano); *Simon Blendis (violin);Jan Peter Schmolk (violin); Douglas Paterson (viola); Jane Salmon (cello))
rec. Champs Hill, Potton Hall, Sussex, England, 3-5 October, *7-8 November 2003. DDD

Experience Classicsonline

These recordings first appeared in 2005 on the now defunct ASV label (Gold GLD 4019) - it is from that disc, in their absence on this one, that recording dates are taken. At the time of the original ASV release, Champs Hill had not yet morphed into a label in its own right.
Composer Charles Tournemire once famously described César Franck's most German of Belgian works as "king of the piano quintets". Although a significant number of competitors have been added to the repertoire since, it remains a fact that Tournemire's ability to recognise Franck's particular kind of genius was significantly greater than Debussy's. Critics and audiences have said just as good things of the Violin Sonata in A that the passage of time is unlikely ever to gainsay - all of which makes for a superb CD coupling for newcomers to Franck or to late-Romantic chamber music in general.
There are countless recordings of both works, especially the Sonata, already available, but for the inured too there is much here to commend itself in the Schubert Ensemble's recital. True, these are performances that are loyal to Franck's scores in an unflashy way that some may consider 'academic'. But Franck himself may well have been among those preferring the Schuberts' interpretations above others deemed more 'poetic', but which say more perhaps about the performers than the composer.
In the Quintet, there is recent competition from the Fine Arts Quartet with Cristina Ortiz on Naxos (8.572009) and the Petersen Quartet with Artur Pizarro on Phoenix (PE142), for example. The Schuberts immerse themselves in the dark, lush passion of the work - bizarrely described in one contemporary review of the ASV disc as "sinister" - with a rhythmic perception and verve that nicely round out their general faithfulness to Franck's score.
As for the Sonata, on top of countless older recordings of reasonable vintage or better, there have been a fair few new ones that have met with critical acclaim: Ray Chen with Noreen Polera on Sony (88697723202), Jennifer Pike with Martin Roscoe on Chandos (CHAN10667), cellist Anne Gastinel with Claire Désert on Naive (5259), Joshua Bell with Jeremy Denk also on Sony (88697891822), Vadim Repin with Nikolai Lugansky on DG (4778794), Catherine Manoukian with Xiayin Wang on Marquis (81385) - and those are just the ones that have appeared since this Champs Hill disc was released!
For all-round, no-nonsense quality there is no good reason not to favour Howard and Blendis, particularly over any where the coupling is not Franck's Quintet. In both works the Schubert Ensemble are a match in finesse and accuracy for any of the above. Moreover, audio grade here, whilst not quite ideal - there is too much reverberation in the Sonata, for example - is nonetheless pretty good. This is more than can be said for many established "classic" recordings of these works, such as, for the Quintet, Victor Aller with the Hollywood Quartet on Testament (SBT 1077) or Clifford Curzon's 1960 live recording with the Amadeus Quartet (available on BBC Legends, BBCL 40612 and elsewhere).
Booklet notes by Ates Orga are couched in slightly ungainly prose, and for a while slip into technical waffle, but offer plenty of background detail to the works. There are a few typos - "Augène Ysäye" and "cynically" instead of "cyclically", for example! - that still (May 2012) remain uncorrected on the Champs Hill website. The cover booklet shows a section of the Eiffel Tower, which is considerably more French than Franck - denied admission to the Paris Conservatoire because he was not French enough! - or, as these works demonstrate, his music.
Collected reviews and contact at





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

Error processing SSI file