One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

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

Some items
to consider

16th-19th November

Shostakovich 4, 11 Nelsons
Transparent Granite!

Nothing but Praise

BrucKner 4 Nelsons
the finest of recent years.

superb BD-A sound

This is a wonderful set

Telemann continues to amaze

A superb disc

Performances to cherish

An extraordinary disc.

rush out and buy this

I favour above all the others

Frank Martin - Exemplary accounts

Asrael Symphony
A major addition

Another Bacewicz winner

match any I’ve heard

An outstanding centenary collection

personable, tuneful, approachable

a very fine Brahms symphony cycle.

music that will be new to most people

telling, tough, thoughtful, emotionally fleet and powerfully recorded

hitherto unrecorded Latvian music


Plain text for smartphones & printers

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off

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
Senior Editor
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Support us financially by purchasing this disc from
Richard STRAUSS (1864-1949)
String Quartet in A major Op. 2 [29:02]
Giacomo PUCCINI (1858-1924)
Crisantemi [5:52]
Three Minuets in A major [9:14]
Giuseppe VERDI (1813-1901)
String Quartet in E minor [22:21]
Ensō Quartet (Maureen Nelson and John Marcus (violins), Melissa Reardon (viola), Richard Belcher (cello))
rec. St Anne’s Church, Toronto, Canada, 30 July-2 August 2012
NAXOS 8.573108 [66:29]

Here are quartets by three composers whose main activities were far from that field. All are better known for their work in the operatic field although Strauss in fact wrote a great deal of chamber music as well (see review).

These chamber works occupy very different positions in their composers' careers. Strauss’s Quartet was written when he was still at school; Puccini’s two works date from before his first major success with Manon Lescaut; while Verdi’s Quartet dates from 1873, the height of his maturity. They differ greatly in character too. Strauss was clearly very much influenced by classical models, especially in the very Haydnesque finale, and little of the work suggests the mature composer. Nonetheless it provides pleasant listening, demonstrating, if it needed to be, that right from a very early age Strauss was able to construct an extended and eloquent work, if not necessarily saying a great deal original or profound. It is nonetheless played here in a way that suggests the performers are wholly convinced by it, which helps listeners to come to the same view.

Crisantemi is much better known as the direct forerunner of part of Manon Lescaut. It can sound hysterical in the wrong hands but here the players stop just short of the exaggeration heard in some other performances. The earlier Minuets are charming and a pleasure to hear. Verdi’s Quartet is by a long way the best work on the disc, and the players clearly relish its more subtle changes of character and interplay of parts.

Altogether this is a disc full of interesting and, in the case of the Verdi and Puccini, lovable, music. I am sure that I will return occasionally to the Strauss, but certainly I look forward to further enjoying these entirely admirable performances of the Italian works.

John Sheppard