One of the most grown-up review sites around

54,514 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


Plain text for smartphones & printers

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

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Sir Colin Davis - Staatskapelle Dresden
see end of review for contents
Ute Selbig (soprano - Luonnotar)
Keith Ikaia-Purdy (tenor - Grande Messe)
Chor der Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden; Sinfoniechor Dresden; Singakademie Dresden (Grande Messe)
Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden/Sir Colin Davis
rec. live, Semperoper, Dresden, 1998 (Elgar), 1997 (Berlioz overtures), 1997 (Mendelssohn), 1988 (Sibelius Symphony), 2003 (En Saga, Luonnotar), 1992 (Schubert, Brahms), 1994 (Berlioz).
No sung texts provided
PROFIL EDITION PH13032 [6 CDs: 376:08] 

This is an almost totally perfect tribute to Colin Davis’ work with the Staatskapelle Dresden. Profil has selected, from its continuing series of Dresden live concert recordings, six CDs representing Davis’s strengths in Elgar, Sibelius, and Berlioz, plus more variable outings in Germanic repertoire.
Let’s start with the good stuff: the set begins with a tremendous account of Elgar’s First, brimming with life and emotion and zeal. Tempos are fairly quick (51:16 versus 54:24 in the LSO remake), and the triumphant last few minutes are hugely affecting. Combine this with the glorious Dresden sound and it’s at the top of my list of favorite Elgar Firsts, live or studio, from any conductor or orchestra. (Also on the shortlist: Boult/BBC live on ICA Classics, Barbirolli on EMI.) The first CD ends with two flat-out fantastic readings of Berlioz overtures. There is simply no cause to complain.
Speaking of Berlioz, we get a live Requiem, 5 minutes faster than his last recording, live with the LSO (89:00 vs. 94:00). This one dates from 1994, commemorating the 49th (really) anniversary of the firebombing of Dresden. The performance is superb, rich and atmospheric and benefiting noticeably from the sumptuous acoustic. The missing five minutes won’t be noticed; Davis never rushes and the Dresden choruses contribute their finest. I wish the excellent Davis/Dresden Berlioz Te Deum on this label had also been included; alas.
Also top-notch is the Sibelius disc, featuring a good En Saga and a Symphony No. 2 which overcomes some slightly sluggish violins at the very beginning to become maybe Davis’s most exciting performance of the symphony. This is one of, what, four available readings (Boston, LSO RCA, LSO Live) but I’d make it first choice, since the second and last movements are that much more urgent and powerful, although the symphony’s final chords are punctuated by pauses I’m not used to hearing there. Luonnotar makes a nice filler, with Ute Selbig in incredibly clear voice - you can understand every syllable. My favorite account will remain Soile Isokoski’s with Leif Segerstam leading a more mysterious accompaniment.
Less good than these are Davis’ forays into Mendelssohn, Schubert and Brahms. The Mendelssohn accounts are certainly good but never great, the “Reformation” Symphony, for instance, let down by a final coda that slows the pace and weakens the impact. The Schubert “Unfinished” is too darn slow for my taste; at nearly a half-hour, it offers us a funereal first movement that’s paced just like the second.
Sound quality varies but is always plenty good enough; there are some coughs and other performance noises but nothing distracting. The box set is simply the original releases packaged up together; if you want to download MP3s, you have to acquire each album separately, for now. That’s not a bad thing, because it enables you to skip the less-important Germanic repertoire. Here are links to MP3 albums on ClassicsOnline (which is how I listened): Elgar and Berlioz overtures, Berlioz requiem, Sibelius, Mendelssohn, Schubert and Brahms, and the Berlioz Te Deum which you should purchase instead of the Mendelssohn, Schubert and Brahms.
Brian Reinhart

Masterwork Index
Brahms Symphony 3 ~~ Elgar Symphony 1 ~~ Mendelssohn symphonies ~~ Sibelius Symphony 2

CD 1 [74:58]
Edward ELGAR (1857-1934)
Symphony No. 1 in A flat major, Op. 55 (1908) [51:15]
Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
Overture - Le roi Lear (King Lear), Op. 4 (1831) [15:52]
Overture - Béatrice et Benedict, Op. 9 (1862) [7:57]
CD 2 [72:50]
Felix MENDELSSOHN (1809-47)
Symphony No. 3 in A minor, Op. 56 Scottish (1842) [40:10]
Symphony No. 5 in D minor, Op. 107 Reformation (1829/30) [32:34]
CD 3 [72:05]
JEAN SIBELIUS (1865-1957)
Symphony No. 2 in D major, Op. 43 (1902) [42:49]
En Saga, Op. 9(1892) [19:22]
Luonnotar for soprano and orchestra,Op. 70 (1913) [9:49]
CD 4 [67:21]
Franz SCHUBERT (1797-1828)
Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D 759 Unfinished (1822) [28:06]
Johannes BRAHMS (1833-1897)
Symphony No. 3 in F major, Op. 90 (1883) [39:10]
CDs 5-6 [39:20 + 49:34]
Hector BERLIOZ (1803-1869)
Grande Messe des Morts (Requiem), Op. 5 (1837) [88:43]