One of the most grown-up review sites around

55,946 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

3 for 2 Offer

All Forgotten Records Reviews


100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Mozart Brahms
Clarinet Quintets
All Foghorn Reviews

Puertas de Madrid
All EMEC reviews
All EMEC reviews

All Reference Recordings

Eugène Ysaÿe: Violin Discoveries
All Divine Art Reviews

Debussy Complete Preludes



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


Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom
Ph. 020 8418 0616


Plain text for smartphones & printers

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

All Chandos reviews

All Hyperion reviews

All Foghorn reviews

All Troubadisc reviews

Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

All Lyrita Reviews


Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month




Symphonic Works

Frederico Mompou

Extraordinary Music for Organ


Support us financially by purchasing
this through MusicWeb
for £12 postage paid world-wide.

Douglas LILBURN (1915-2001)
String quartet in E minor (1946) [19:45]
Sonata for violin and piano (1950) [13:20]
Duos for two violins (1956) [19:22]
Canzonetta No.1 for violin and viola (1942) [3:02]
Canzonetta No.2 for violin and viola (1943) [1:15]
String trio (1945) [15:54]
Martin Risley (violin); Chamber Players of The New Zealand School of Music (Jian Liu (piano), Lyndon Taylor (violin), Jun He (violin), Donald Maurice (viola), Inbal Megiddo (cello))
rec. Wellington, New Zealand, June 2011.
ATOLL ACD 142 [73:05]

The more I read about Douglas Lilburn the more fascinating the character that emerges. He would definitely be the sort of person I would have loved to have met.

Just think, this is a man who as a boy sat his university entrance exam a year early. Instead of writing an essay on an imperial theme as directed he submitted a piano sonata, Op.1. This was at his hated boarding school in New Zealand. A man with an unconventional view of the world he will have perfectly appreciated the advice given him by his teacher in London, Ralph Vaughan Williams. He told him 'cut out all the bits you like best’ interpreting this as meaning 'don't be clever, don't be silly, don't try to impress - search for what is valid in your intuition, your understanding, and go from that'. Taking Vaughan Williams’ advice and marrying it with Stravinsky’s dictum ‘the greater the limitations, the greater the art’ Lilburn’s music is highly refined like a single malt whisky than has been triple distilled to achieve exceptional purity. It is therefore also understandable that he believed that his music should not require programme notes or commentary; it does indeed speak for itself.

The music is both seriously beautiful and beautifully serious with an honesty that is totally without artifice. It is music that reveals itself slowly. It requires a serious approach by listeners and demands their full attention as the ideas unfold and grow. The string quartet is a perfect illustration whilst the violin and piano sonata also incorporates an element of whimsy as the violin dances around the piano in the most attractively delicious way. This sonata is chock-full of delightful melodies making for compelling listening.

Restricting himself to the limits of two violins in his Duos for two violins Lilburn showed how closely he could follow Stravinsky's dictum. He produces wonderfully pure sounds that are the very essence of such a concept. Conceived as incidental music for Ngaio Marsh’s productions of Shakespeare’s plays the two canzonettas are utterly beguiling in their simplicity. The final offering is Lilburn’s String Trio from 1945. Like the quartet, which came a year later, it is another fine example of all that has gone before. This is serious music stripped of any affectation and pared down to the very essentials.

It is heartening to see that Atoll, a New Zealand record label is championing Lilburn’s music and, together with Naxos (symphonies ~~ orchestral works), MMT, Continuum and Kiwi Pacific (review) there are now several opportunities to explore many of Lilburn’s works from the three symphonies, piano music, his complete electro-acoustic music and the other orchestral music. This is a good start but there is a great deal more crying out to be recorded. Anyone who hears his music will want that to be done as soon as possible.

This disc is a real joy. The performers match their playing to their obvious commitment to the music of their worthy compatriot. A fine achievement altogether.

Steve Arloff