Congratulations on turning 20.
MusicWeb International has indeed developed into the most important classical
review site on the web, by reviewing more recordings than any other medium
in the universe.
It has also become an important classical music resource.
I look forward to the next 20 years with great anticipation.
MusicWeb-International has without question become our 'go to' review
site. We are able to tell our artists that it will be the first place
to comment, that it may review the recording more than once, that
there will be no limit put on the number of words published. These
are all good messages, and uniquely delivered. Thank you.
Our industry is at a cross roads and not for the first time. We are
all struggling to understand the possibilities, perils and pitfalls
of download, streaming and blogs whilst maintaining relationships
with core record shops and music magazines. To capitalise on the future
we need to harness the business we have whilst finding new customers
and leverage new sales opportunities from these emerging platforms.
The classical music world has always strived to do better by invention.
At each step from 78 to LP and LP to CD the playing time and sound quality
improved significantly. This in turn pushed developments in microphones,
studios, tape recorders and editing systems. The industry swelled with
each success and customers relished each advancement. But the advent of
download and streaming brought about a reverse in playing time and audio
quality. Forced to play by rules written for three minute pop tracks we
now have to consider how much compression is acceptable and if a ten minute
symphonic movement should really sell for the same price as a three minute
And running alongside the digital revolution for selling music we
are also facing a digital evolution for reaching customers. Marketing
used to be so simple. Three magazines and two radio stations reached
all of your customers. For better or worse a good lunch and a decent
advertising budget secured success. But with physical subscriptions
to magazines dwindling, print and postal costs rising and publishers
struggling to sustain revenue from on-line editions the magazines
face a no win situation. How to review more than four hundred releases
every month and yet print fewer pages? It is an unenviable task and
I am sure that if truth be told no one would choose to start a printed
physical classical music magazine in the 21st century.
If you wanted to start a music magazine today it would have to be web
based and on-line. This would give you the ability to search and compare
new recordings with back catalogue. It would provide reviewers with
the freedom to write paragraphs and pages, not squeeze snippets into
a single sentence. You would publish news and reviews weekly not wait
six months and shackle yourself to monthly street dates. But above
all you would be able to offer a wider, informed and more balanced
view to your readers. By encouraging more than one contributor to
review the same release you would allow your customers to decide whose
argument they best understood or more often agreed with. This would
be a music magazine for today's customers.
So can it be true that Musicweb is 20 years old? Was it really that far
ahead of its time? The simple answer must be yes and long may it remain!
Antony Smith, Business Director
Nimbus Records, Wyastone Estate Limited
Hyperion thanks MusicWeb International, Len Mullenger, Rob Barnett,
and all the writers, for 20 years of dedicated, learned and fascinating
criticism. Here's to many more.
Anna Kenyon - Hyperion
Congratulations to Musicweb International for reaching a landmark 20th
anniversary. During this time, Musicweb has gone from strength to strength
and weve thoroughly enjoyed reading and sharing your timely and
in-depth reviews of our labels recordings. Keep up the good work!
Sara Kalic on behalf of harmonia mundi UK
"It is the job of a CD reviewer to evaluate, to give praise
or blame where necessary, and maybe add a bit of background to the
What impresses me about MusicWeb International is that its reviews
often go beyond this, putting into words the creative impulse behind
the making of a CD, giving the reader the sense of whether it really
is for them."
Jeremy Polmear, Oboe Classics
MusicWeb has been a godsend for listeners and publishers. Your comprehensive
coverage and level of criticism are the best around! I devour your news
each week and am grateful for many suggestions and the acute listening
accorded to our releases and news of books and downloads! Wishing you
Arbiter of Cultural Traditions
Congratulations to MusicWeb on your 20th anniversary from all the staff
and artists at Delphian and many thanks for your ongoing support
As the owner and operator of Centaur Records, I cannot tell you how much
I appreciate MusicWeb. The fact that MusicWeb is not making decisions
about what will and will not be reviewed on the basis of label advertising
is of itself a major element of the integrity of the publication. I consider
MusicWeb to be by far the best classical review publication in the UK,
and one of the best in the world.
Victor E. Sachse
I want to offer my congratulations to MusicWeb International on the
occasion their 20th anniversary. Since the very outset of my association
with their staff of writers and administrators, it was apparent to
me I was dealing with an outfit of the highest standards, and of the
greatest necessity. In these times of lowered bars and high praise
by the pound, MusicWeb follows a rare compass worthy of respect, and
they deserve our thanks.
Congratulations to MusicWeb on their 20th year ... the only online source
to review our complete catalog! -- OgreOgress productions
I write from the perspective of a CD publisher as opposed to a buyer:
to say that we have been working with MusicWeb for as long as I can recall
( probably all of your 20 years) and overall, we at Divine Art appreciate
very highly the service that MW provides and for the usually thoughtful,
penetrating and factually accurate reviews and articles that appear
the standard of knowledge and professionalism of your panel is the equal
of all and better than most, and the breadth of reviews is also unparalelled
and shows no favoritism.
And on a personal level only: we celebrated our 25th anniversary in 2013,
did massive press releases and special offers and NOT ONE media person
gave it even the slightest mention
. Sadly we all find that the
great public is totally apathetic to almost everything..! and you
also dont restrict the reviews to your favourite pet labels
since we moved our HQ to America even though we
still have one of the best catalogues of rarities, new music and British
material the so called mainstream music mags just ignore
All the best,
Congratulations to MusicWeb International on reaching 20 years! MWI has
been a steady and reliable source of information for a gigantic range
of music and recordings. There isn't a better way to begin the day than
to have this great source of information alongside one's morning coffee.
Bravo Len and MWI!
Becky and David Starobin, Bridge Records, Inc.
Hearty Congratulations from DUX to MusicWeb International, in celebrating
its 20th year providing excellent lecture to the professional musicians
and music lovers!
We really hope we can continue to have a fruitful relation with MusicWeb.
Long may MusicWe prosper! Keep up the great work and next twenty years!
The British Music Society sends its congratulations on your reaching
such an anniversary with your website. I wonder if you thought it
possible when you first launched. And to have become such a respected
source of information for so many people must really give you much
to be proud of.
The Society, yourself and the website have been interconnected over
quite a few years, as you have been a Society member since the 1990s.
The Society also appreciated your direct support when it finally decided
to seek to set up a website for itself in the early 2000s and you
gave us the space to do so within your own. This arrangement ran well
and only ceased in 2010 because decisions about our site required
technical support which you were unable to provide from MusicWeb.
However, links between us still remain and long may they do so.
20 years passed, but now to look to the future for both our organisations.
All good wishes
Stephen Trowell, Hon. Treasurer, The British Music Society (coupled
with my personal ones)
Let me add my voice to the chorus. You are on my favorites bar, and
I look at the reviews first thing every morning. I have always been
proud that some of my own work used to appear on Musicweb International,
especially my Encyclopedia of Popular Music (now at www.donaldclarkemusicbox.com).
The description of Musicweb having been ahead of its time is spot
on. My wife worked in the magazine industry for many years; her last
cover won an award from the industry even as the mag itself was killed!
Three cheers for Len and Rob!
Happy New Year!
Congratulations on MusicWeb's 20th! I have to say, having retired from
molecular biology myself, that you have done well by doing good...well,
at least done good. I have been faithfully reading MusicWeb reviews since
close to the beginning. I think I got into it through MCML, a highly
interesting, international, classical music discussion list-serve that
went extinct years ago.
I find MusicWeb particularly valuable as a key to composers I hadn't
previously known: "rediscovered" masters like Bortkiewicz, Röntgen,
and more particularly the tremendous array of modern and near-modern
composers whose work is now available on CD. By the way, this is a
remarkable aspect of contemporary music recording. In the days of LPs
even 78s), composers like or Erik Chisholm or Jean-Michel Damase or Bent
Sørensen COULD have been recorded, but they weren't. In today's
they and hundreds of others are.
Jon Gallant Dr. Phage
Thank you, as always, for all your emails and news.
Congratulations on your anniversary and wonderful success. You are making
such a wonderful contribution to music.
Thank you also for giving the Milford Trust space and scope in our promotion
of Robin. We really do appreciate this very much.
Rob and I have, recently, being communicating about the state of other
musical bodies in our country. It is wonderful to have you there and the
stability you give to British Music.
All good wishes for your success in the years ahead.
Rather unnerving to find l have no idea how long l have been receiving
bulletins - years - as l get older they seem to merge seamlessly together
l have always found the reviews very reliable and engaging - even when
l don't agree. If that sounds daft l mean that your reviewers always give
good reasons for their judgements so that you know where they are coming
from. The one line summery is a brilliant idea.
In terms of buying l am particularly glad to have discovered Arkiv (very
good for discs no longer available in the UK) and Pristine. l am very
selective now having built a large collection and done much exploring
- now it is more refining and snapping up the odd new Morton Feldman disc
(always well reviewed by you). l have a local specialist shop (Prelude,
Norwich) where l used to work part-time so my buying gets done there.
l have stopped taking magazines so rely on your bulletins and look forward
to scrolling down the list - what will l find?
l can't think offhand of any reviews l would like to pick out l am afraid
- perhaps the last Morton Feldman one as he is a rare bird but much
loved by those who know his work.
wishing you all the best
Your newsletter has replaced 3 magazines for me IRR, Gramophone
and BBCmusic magazine its more succinct, better written
and more discerning (and cheaper). It constantly adds to my
amazon wish list currently running to 328 items and
the odd tricky to find product.
You are loved!
I dont know how long I have been with MusicWeb. Ten years maybe?
I find MusicWeb and International Record Review an excellent combination.
One is good for a quick update every week, the other for a good long
read once a month.
I like the way both these sources give the vital information about whether
a CD gives texts with vocal works well, 99% of the time - and respond
graciously when I complain that its been overlooked.
Both of you manage to avoid the ghastly gushing passionate about
classic music guff that is prevalent elsewhere. (I abandoned The
Gramophone and BBC Music Mag long ago.)
Searching MusicWebs archive of reviews is extremely useful.
The 'MWI recommends' feature is an excellent innovation. Trouble is that
some works now have as many as 10 recommendations, which tends to destroy
the point of the selection. Keep it to a maximum of six, Id say;
there are various ways you could do that.
The oldest record from MusicWeb International I found on my computer
is a review from January 2004 but I'm sure that I have started consulting
your website quite some time before that.
Ever since, I've been checking the reviews faithfully (almost) every day
and I still find them very useful. I learn about new recordings of music
I'm already familiar with and, in addition, about composers and pieces
of music I didn't know anything about. Quite often, a favorable review
at MusicWeb has been the main factor in my decisions to purchase yet another
CD/DVD/BD even though I'm running out of shelf space ...
I should also mention your Gerard Hoffnung corner - the books and the
CDs are pure delight.
With many thanks
Michael Calmano, svd
About 6 years or maybe longer I get every week the results of new CD's.
On my search on internet about composers and their compositions I found
the website. Every week on Thursday I check my inbox for the message.
I think in 1995 I buy the New Grove dictionary of Music etc.
I was dissapointed that it was edited 1980, so I started to make my
own database about Composers and their compositions. Your webside
helps me with data about the Composers, duration of compositions,
new compositions and new CD's.
My favorite composer is Dimitri Shostakovitch. I have almost every
Music composed by him on CD. On DVD I have also some music.
From 10 or 12 years old I (now 70) listen and collected classical music.
A lot I recorded first on tape and now on CD or DVD.
My collection is mostly orchestral works.
It is Dutch Classical music, Piano Concerto's and other orchestral
music, from 8 players and more.
Through the years I notice that the reviews be come less CD's.
But still there are more new CD's then I can buy.
Hope that I for the next 20 years can enjoy your website.
I studied music in university, but did not graduate. I work in the mortgage
industry, but was a church choir director for many years, and currently
direct a handbell choir. I've always tried to keep current with the classical
recording industry, owning many old Penguin guides.
I don't remember when I found Music Web International, but it is one of
my Microsoft "favorites" and I check it daily. Because of the
time difference, I almost always check it the night before. I love seeing
the new things, but especially the reviews of re-issues, either by major
labels or "boutique" labels. At my time of life, I'm finally
able to acquire well loved performances that were on budget labels in
I'm gratified when you pay attention to free downloads, such as those
found at Rediscovery.us, for example.
You have also brought to my attention, many unknown (to me) British composers.
I especially enjoyed a feature about a recording session in Malmo, Sweden.
I also enjoy the features about older conductors, who worked on the fringe
of the recording industry. It's interesting to read about the careers
of people who are only names on old lists, or old budget labels.
Thanks for the good work.
Extraordinary and invaluable resource.
Harvey Clark Greisman
[From one of our reviewers]
Being a reviewer has allowed me to hear recordings I wouldn't ever
see in local shops, some of which have been revelatory performances.
Highlights for me have been the Bach Cello Suites with Luigi Piovano,
the Schubert late A minor sonata with Inesa Sinkevych, the Elgar cello
concerto with Zuill Bailey, the violin concerto with Marat Bisengaliev
and the Faure chamber works with piano with Eric Lesage.
Listening for reviewing is different from regular listening in several
ways. I take notes when reviewing, and try to always listen through the
same stereo. As a former amateur musician I know how enormously difficult
it is to play an instrument professionally; without being Pollyanna-ish,
therefore, I try to look for positives in each performance. If this is
unsuccessful and I just can't warm to a performance, I will try to explain
why. No reviewer is going to know how they will respond to a recording
until they hear it.
One needs to be aware that performances can be imprinting. I first heard
the Elgar cello concerto in the famous Jacqueline du Pre recording. Now,
whenever I hear it played, I am comparing it to Jackie. There is, of course,
an infinite number of valid approaches that a performer can take to a
work, and I feel it is important to try to approach each on its own terms.
I find it helpful to ask oneself what is the story that the performer
is relating through the music; this often reveals what they are trying
to achieve in the performance. It is relevant, however, to use a performance
with which one is familiar as a point of reference in one's review. This
gives readers an idea of where the recording under review sits in relation
to other possibly more well-known ones. I find it a very enriching experience
to think about these kinds of things in terms of how I view a piece of
Some performers have been critical of reviewers as lacking the knowledge
required to review their work. Of course reviewers have their recognised
areas of expertise; I wouldn't offer to review a Ring cycle because there
are people who would do it a lot better than I could. So there is a sorting
and sifting process, largely accomplished by the site managers, in the
artful matching of discs to reviewers. I feel, however, that the role
of the interested amateur is an important one for reviewing. Performers
aren't just performing for people with PhDs in music, or who play an instrument
or sing to a high level. The art of the performer is surely to bring the
music to life, for any and all listeners who are prepared to listen to
them sympathetically. We are just trying to report on their efforts to
do that. I can report also that I have never had any editorial intervention
with the content of a review, only with checking of details such as the
spelling of a performer's name. So agree with us or not, what we say is
what we think, and no-one can cast any reflection on the integrity of
a review on MWI.
I do thoroughly enjoy reading your reviews, particularly where they
can provide a couple of views on the same disc. I've discovered a
few delightful but not well known works through your site (notably
Howard Blake's excellent piano concerto... I cannot fathom why more
of his concert music is not available on disc when quite a number
of his contemporaries, such as Christopher Gunning - who is no slouch
himself - seem to receive a nicely representative selection of their
works recorded). The biggest single impact though, has to be your
Mahler symphony survey which helped me pick out my Mahler library.
You're entirely to blame for me now having up to half a dozen versions
of a particular symphony... particularly the 5th which remains one
of my favourite single works.
Hope that helps! Keep up the good work.
Cheers, Tom Daish
As humble follower of the reviews, I didn't feel I had much to contribute
to an Anniversary edition, but I should at least respond to let you know
how useful they are to me.
MI has been a standard habit of mine for some years now - not the whole
twenty, I'm fairly sure. I was pleased not long after 'joining' to win
a prize consisting of a boxed set of Sibelius, though I no longer remember
what the competition was.
I always look through the whole list of reviews for a particular week,
naturally with my eye open for favourite composers, but also for relatively
unknown names in contemporary music (there are so many now).
Although I cannot purchase CDs very frequently, I do try to do it via
MI when possible. Altogether, the site is a valuable way for me to keep
up with what is going on in the musical world.
Well Len, or should I say..
Because you have created and managed one of the
best and most useful sites on the web.
I probably found you about ten years ago when I
finally got my first good computer and a broadband
An old second-hand computer and dial-up drove me
crazy late in the last century, so I gave up after a
few months. (I did get plenty of reading done while
I waited for things to download though)
I am a ex-teacher living in our national capital who
tried the music business with a few friends, after early
retirement. We had a few good years but I ended up
losing my teachers superannuation in the end to
help pay off our debts.
Had a great time doing it though and I didnt lose my
home, as my friends did.
I was a collector of LPs from my mid teens and still
have several thousand and two turntables. I have
been an enthusiastic reader of the Gramophone
for all of those years and now have MWI, as well!!
I sold a couple of thousand LPs for a very important
charity called Lifeline where I was a volunteer worker
for many years.
I play mainly CDs now though, I must confess.
My collection is 80% Classical, 10% Jazz, 5% Rock and
5% World Music. Classical extends from Medieval to
late 20th Cent+ ; Rock and Jazz, more based around
music from earlier times in my life. Not an uncommon
phenomenon, I believe. Not judgemental, just links
with times, places and people.. and listening time limits.
I found your site while hunting for a review of something
and knew straight away that I had stumbled across a
site that I would need to visit frequently. Your regular
downloads have made that wonderfully easy.
There is much useful and interesting information and
the organization and internal links make it easy to find
our way around. Even though I am only on a Government
Pension, I manage, and am even inspired to save for a
purchase from time to time by something I find on MWI.
For example, I have recently obtained the Coleman
Hawkins-Sir Charles Thompson date that I have always
wanted since I heard the 10 inch LP of a friend many
years ago. I have also ordered the CD issue of the Bach
violin sonatas with Menuhin-Gauntlet-Malcolm which
were my first LP set of them and still a favourite.
So, yes, you are proving a service that is really very much
appreciated. I, and I am sure, many others now say,
thank you. Congratulations on reaching 20. Please let us
celebrate your 30th together.
One suggestion, which may have been taken care of
anyway: some reviewers seem to review music or
performers with which they are not very sympathetic.
They certainly dont have to like that particular disc or
performance, but when a regular negative attitude keeps
coming through their reviews, perhaps they would be better
advised to write about other things they are prepared to
As you may have gathered, I am a happy, but rather
unwealthy music lover and dont even use credit
or buy anything off the web. If I ever come into some
money though, I will be happy to give you more than
Keep up the good, no great, work.
I love it! I dont read every review but I do look at all of them
and read those of works which interest me and often let myself be guided
by your reviewers in deciding what to buy or not.
My favourite reviews are the long review articles, for example on the
Bruckner and Mahler symphonies or, more recently, those of Kalevi Aho.
I would love it if you could add a facility for readers to comment on
reviews. Sometimes I have comments, occasionally even corrections.
[In the menu at the top of the page you will find
a link to our Bulletin Board which is there for exactly that purpose - Len]
I have been reading Music Web International for probably 15 years or
so. I look forward to the new crop of reviews on a regular basis and I
think I sent in a donation at least once in that time. I must do so again.
I read not only the new reviews but often dip into your archives for past
reviews which help me in deciding on purchases. I am especially interested
in 20th/21st century British composers with a particular affinity for
Ralph Vaughan Williams.
I have been a regular reader for some years and always look to your site
for the latest information on music releases and concert reviews as well.
(I live in Chicago). I use your site most to research certain recordings
and artists I am interested in and I appreciate the reviews' insights
and takeaways. Your site is very objective in its approach and very valuable
in its breadth of content. Please continue to inform us as you do currently!
Living in America, I realize that release timing and availability is
often an issue. It does seem that the UK has an advantage over the States
in this regard. So that too is a reason to read as I have had discs sent
to me from overseas as a result.
I still believe strongly in discs over digital, as having them in hand
and in a collection is something I value. I think one of the most important
functions of your site may well be to speak as a single voice for new
repertory/re-released recordings. Given your site's high traffic it would
be very satisfying to know that many others may also want to have--and
your site could drive to release---all of Sir Colin Davis' Amsterdam Haydn
Symphonies remastered, more live Sawallisch from the Munich archive, the
Bohm Munich Ariadne, Sinopoli/Dresden live archive, Varady and Dernesch
material, Aribert Reimann works...on and on. I think your voice may well
heard by those who haven't always listened.
In closing, I would very much like to know if the DG Thielemann Elektra
is worth acquiring--specifically, are the Dresdeners reason enough to
get the discs? Apart from the other artists, do they blaze away?...I'd
like to know so that I can run out and get the recording. The online samples
aren't enough to make the judgement.
If memory serves, I bought my first modem in 1995 and among my first
explorations on the web were sites connected with music, and so I
imagine I would have found Musicweb then: certainly it's been my home
page for many years. I've been reading Gramophone since the early 60s,
and Fanfare since the mid-80s, together with a number of other music
magazines which have since fallen by the wayside. I've been collecting
CDs since they first became available, and am always on the lookout for
music I haven't heard before rather than new versions of works I already
know, although I sometimes do buy multiple versions of the same work.
read probably 50% of the Musicweb reviews, including some which might
of interest to a friend who does not use a computer.
My main interest
is in orchestral music of all periods, although in later life I've
become increasingly interested in chamber and instrumental music. I
download some music and my main source of physical discs is Crotchet in
Birmingham which as well as providing excellent service sells more
cheaply than I can buy in Australia. Musicweb provides me with
well-researched reviews, and quite often alerts me to a CD I hadn't
known about from other sources, and so I can and do buy CDs because of
good review or simply knowing the disc is available. I also keep an eye
on the other articles, especially the discographies and the
reminiscences of performers of the past by Christopher Howell.
I've been collecting LPs and CDs for over fifty years, I have a pretty
wide knowledge of music within my genres of interest and occasionally
have sent a note to Rob Barnett to pass on to the writer in question,
including information about records which were once available in this
country but may not have been released in the UK.
Please be assured that I value Musicweb highly. I won't be around to
celebrate its next twenty years, but I hope it continues for at least
Dear Len and reviewers, After a drift away from the Classics I returned
to these core musical works some 4 years ago. Music Web International
was the 1st site I stumbled upon to guide my rediscovery. I've visited
you nearly evert day since. Your fearless, honest and independent
reviews and researched articles and references have helped me build
a library of just over 1200 albums. For this unique service alone
I am very grateful, to say nothing of all that I learnt from you and
the pleasure I've gaibed and shared with family and friends. Long
may you continue and prosper richly.
With my best 'birthday' wishes for your 20th. Mark Percival. Brisbane.