One of the most grown-up review sites around

51,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


colourful imaginative harmony
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Leticia Gómez-Tagle
Chopin, Liszt, Scarlatti

Guillaume LEKEU

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Acte Prealable returns
with New Releases

Superior performance

Shostakovich 6&7 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem Thielemann

Marianna Henriksson
An outstanding recital

Arnold Bax
Be converted

this terrific disc

John Buckley
one of my major discoveries

François-Xavier Roth
A game-changing Mahler 3


Bryden Thomson


Vaughan Williams Concertos

RVW Orchestral


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
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

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Orchestral Masters, Vol. 1
Sirens’ Song [14:24]
Federico GARCIA (b.1978)
Passacaglia on a Theme by Bach [10:23]
Belgrade Overture [5:26]
Organal Dances [7:50]
Lullaby [3:18]
Hiroaki MANAKA (b.1943)
Thought of the Great Plains [8:27]
Spiros MAZIS
10 Dimensions - AEB160 [8:55]
Joyce Wai-chung TANG
Quicksilver Swirls [7:05]
Brno Philharmonic Orchestra/Mikel Toms
rec. dates not provided, Besední Hall, Brno, Czech Republic
ABLAZE RECORDS AR-00015 [65:48]

“Orchestral Masters, Vol. 1” the cover declares. Berlioz? Rimsky-Korsakov? Stravinsky? No: this is a diverse collection of living composers from around the globe, and while the quality is pretty mixed, some of their music is very good indeed. All of it is grounded in a return to traditional tonality, and probably some of these composers could be described as “neo-romantic” if you like labeling people with that word. I don’t.
Federico Garcia’s Passacaglia on a Theme by Bach is a suitably grand, austere edifice, and all the orchestration is a little too cute at the beginning - instruments entering one by one in a suspiciously coordinated procession - the work leaves a positive impression. Craig Morris’ Lullaby, the shortest work at just three minutes, is a sincere and sweetly evocative piece. Morris is one of two part-time composers on the album; he’s also a child psychiatrist. Hiroaki Manaka worked a full career in advertising, composing on the side until taking it up as a retirement hobby. His Thought of the Great Plains is a skilful, indeed brilliant evocation of the experience of riding a bus across American Midwest. What makes it more remarkable is that once you think of the name Sibelius, you can’t stop: it’s - and I say this with sincere admiration - one of the closest approximations of Sibelius’ style I’ve ever heard. Manaka wasn’t attempting to imitate it, so “imitate” is the wrong word: it just came out that way, sincerely, I think, and it is astonishing.
The other highlight is Paul Siskind’s Organal Dances - a set of splashy, brilliantly orchestrated American spins on baroque dance modes. I’m not surprised to learn Siskind has had music performed by the Pittsburgh and Minnesota Orchestras, not when his instrumental writing stands out so sharply even on an album like this.
There are, as I said, disappointments. Lance Hulme’s Sirens’ Song makes little attempt to be seductive, and after a very promising opening flourish we get three or four minutes of the same thing in repetition. Although we’re told the tripartite structure is feminine, I’m not sure where the sirens come into it. Spiros Mazis’ 10 Dimensions - AEB160 is a lot more interesting than its title, an exploration of textures and sounds and feelings, but the ending is somehow less interesting than the beginning, I think because it’s more conventional. Half the works on the disc rely too much on wood blocks and other faddish percussion instruments.
The Brno Philharmonic give able, committed performances; I heard what sounded like some woodwind missteps in the middle of the Hulme piece but maybe he just wrote it that way. The quality of music-making over an hour of unfamiliar new works is something of which performers and composers can be proud. Recorded sound is good, too. For adventurers.
A word to composers: please put your birth year somewhere in your biography or your website. It makes our job much easier and our review more helpful. If you aspire to someday merit a Wikipedia page, you’ll need your birthday online anyway. A few of these composers have a good chance.
Brian Reinhart