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


REVIEW 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
York BOWEN (1884-1961)
Clarinet sonata in F minor, op. 109 (1943) [15:31]
Rhapsody trio, op. 80 (1924-25) [13:32]
Piano trio movement in D minor (c. 1900) [11:06]
Phantasy quintet, for bass clarinet and string quartet in D minor, op. 93 (c. 1933) [14:11]
Piano trio in E minor, op. 118 (1946) [24:07]
Robert Plane (clarinets)
Gould Piano Trio: Lucy Gould (violin) Alice Neary (cello) Benjamin Frith (piano)
Mia Cooper (violin: quintet)
David Adams (viola: quintet)
rec. Champs Hill Music Room, West Sussex; 11 January 2013 (quintet), 29 April 2013 (sonata), 30 April and 1 May 2013 (trios)
CHANDOS CHAN10805 [78:29]

York Bowen is a composer whose time has come, it seems. His cause has been taken up in the last decade by Hyperion, Dutton, and Chandos in particular, and devotees of well-written, Romantic music are the better for it.
When this appeared on the Chandos new download releases for January (February for the CD), my main interest was the three piano trios. Spanning almost fifty years, they provide a summary of Bowen’s development - some might say lack of it - as a composer. He remained a romantic throughout the great changes in music occurring around him.
The unfinished early Trio movement is both a juvenile work in its stylistic borrowings from the masters - and salon music for that matter - but also remarkably accomplished for a teenager, if the estimated date of composition is correct.
The two mature trios have been recorded before by the Endymion Ensemble on Dutton (see review) along with the horn quintet, described as a masterpiece by Michael Cookson. I haven’t heard this CD, so can’t compare performances. I suspect they are equally excellent, given the track record of both groups. The single movement Rhapsody trio is darkly lyrical and much more intense and passionate than its title might imply. It is my pick of the three. The later three movement Piano Trio is much more virtuosic in its demands on the players, especially the tarantella finale. In doing so, some of the lyricism of the earlier work is exchanged for drama and excitement. I imagine the performers got a real kick out of playing it.
I don’t tend to listen to much chamber music with wind instruments, but I have to acknowledge how enjoyable the two clarinet works presented here are. The Sonata is unusual in that it has no slow movement. The opening allegro is in the best traditions of the English pastoral school, and I don’t use that term pejoratively, as some have. The scherzando that follows is sparkling and almost jazzy, while the finale contains the most dramatic moments.
The entry of the bass clarinet in the Quintet over hushed strings is quite magical - it may not be Rhapsody in Blue, but in its quiet, understated and genteel way, it makes a similar impression. The work is in a single movement, with wide ranging tempos and moods; much to my surprise, I came to the conclusion that this is the best work presented here. The Phantasy title immediately conjures up the Cobbett competitions, but this was not an entry in any of them.
I knew of Robert Plane from his recording of the glorious Finzi clarinet concerto on Naxos, and he plays beautifully in the two works here. The Gould Trio are a deserved well-respected ensemble who have recorded with a number of labels, and everything I have heard has been excellent.
All in all, this is an excellent collection of Bowen’s chamber works; the two clarinet works really surprised me and makes me keen to hear more.
David Barker 
Some thoughts on York Bowen by John Lindsay