One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger

Some items
to consider

Yes we are selling
Acte Préalable again!
£11 post-free

we also sell Skarbo

and Oboe Classics


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

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

WYASTONE releases

The Birth of Rhapsody in Blue
A superlative recreation

such a success

An outstanding performance

make acquaintance without delay

Violin Concerto
This is an impressive disc

Strong advocacy
for a British composer

Piano Music - Martin Jones
agreeably crafted

Piano Music 5CDs

Consistently fine

Rare and interesting repertoire

An excellent introduction

A Celebration on Record

An issue of importance

A splendid disc

both enlightening and rewarding
additional review



We are currently offering in excess of 52,000 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

a vibrant slice of life

stylistically assured

About Every Hill and Valley
Swedish Songs

Hallberg and Dente
interesting and most welcome

An inspired partnership
additional review

A valuable document

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


Grove And The Crystal Palace From Symposium Records
by Charles A. Hooey

I couldn't believe this CD I received from England. I knew not what to expect, for all the catalogue listing gave was the promising title: "Sir George Grove and the Crystal Palace" with nary a hint of the solo singing featured. When I finished listening, I just had to hear it again and again.

From the cover, a pensive, mutton-chopped Sir George looks out to welcome one and all to his Crystal Palace. After assuming control in 1852, he soon elevated it to premium entertainment status in Britain, a ranking it held for 85 years. On the CD, those halcyon years are celebrated in opera, oratorio and song, performed by eighteen, largely British-based artistes from the dawn of recording. Grove became the first principal of the Royal College of Music but his name lives on in the Dictionary of Music he founded.

As it happened, I was preparing a story about the first Apostles for the Elgar folks so all this was atmospheric to say the least ... although not a note of Elgar was heard. It simply transported me back to those fabled times.

The vocal items are well-known 78 rpms and a few of the rarest. Of the former, Agnes Nicholls sings "I will extol Thee" from Eli by Sir Michael Costa, the first overseer of the massive Handelian events held in the Palace. It is one of her best recordings, one that Agnes, Lady Harty approved for release. Her powerful voice was difficult to capture.

If you've never heard the dusky tenor of Dublin-born Barton McGuckin, the first Otello in English at Covent Garden, here is your chance. He sings a ballad, one of his two published recordings. Of other British tenors on display, William Green provides the earliest recording (1901): "Be thou faithful until death" from Mendelssohn's St. Paul; Edward Lloyd in surging fashion delivers Gounod's "Lend me your aid" while Ben Davies serves as advocate for Maud Valerie White with her immortal song, "To Mary."

That delectable Dame, Emma Albani, is present with Handel's "Ombra mai fu," showing why the petite Canadian soprano was such a favourite of Queen Victoria. A colleague and fellow royal trouper, Sir Charles Santley, sings one of his classics, "To Anthea" by J. L. Hatton.

Of the low female voices, Australian-born Ada Crossley delightfully unfolds a "Four-leaf clover" by Willeby, her voice a rich, deep contralto in good company with those of Clara Butt and Belle Cole. Dame Clara sings an aria from Handel's Sosarme while Belle from Denver gives a heavenly "Entreat me not to leave thee" by Gounod, this a rarity too.

Amongst the international luminaries, Lillian Nordica offers "Die Bekehrte" by Max Stange, Patti her familiar "Voi che sapete" from Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro and Tetrazzini, an aria from Veracini's Rodelinda. Not quite in this class but fine in his way is David Bispham, one of a trio of Americans involved, with "O God have mercy upon me" from St Paul.

The rest, low-voiced men, include Sir George Henschel in old age with "Die beiden Grenadiere" by Schumann, while Glasgow native Andrew Black sings "O Ruddier than the Cherry" from Handel's Acis and Galatea. Last, but definitely not least - a firm personal favourite - is bass Robert Radford. From a 1918 recording, he rolls into "Roaming in the foaming billows" from Haydn's Creation. After debuting in 1904 at Covent Garden as Commendatore in Don Giovanni, Bob become a fixture in British opera, but he remained true to oratorio. The gleaming black gold he supplies is without peer.

Whoops! I almost forgot Robert Watkyn Mills. His greatest fan, the late Jim McPherson of Toronto, who died of emphysema on 15 November 2002, was one of the world's most knowledgeable musical historians. I still miss his cheery letters. Mills intones "Is not His word like a fire?" from Elijah.

This is not simply a display by great soloists. George Lloyd in 1997 reminisces about his father and the heyday of the Crystal Palace, although a few words about Mr. Lloyd would not have gone amiss for those of us not of British birth. As a fitting climax, five excerpts from Messiah are sung by the Handel Festival Choir, recorded "live" at the Crystal Palace in 1926 with Sir Henry J. Wood conducting.

The task of creating the Crystal Palace fell to Joseph Paxton, a designer of large greenhouses. From his fertile brain sprang a plan for a building he then erected in time for the Great Exhibition. Afterwards it was dismantled, moved, enlarged and re-opened at Sydenham in South London with magnificent fountains and landscaped gardens applying an idyllic touch. It served as home to a multitude of entertainment events until an evening in 1936 when the sun-dried wood within its structure fuelled a spectacular conflagration. The fountains proved inadequate, and four hundred tons of glass and 4 1/2 thousand tons of iron came tumbling down... a stirring Valhalla for Paxton's greenhouse.

The sound in every instance is exemplary, and if any digital jiggery-pokery is present, it is not intrusive, at least to these ears.

Not a conventional review this, perhaps, but it is a heartfelt response to a memorable CD. When a sequel appears, I will make haste to hear it.

A Celebratory Issue on the Occasion of the Millennium to mark The Centenary of Sir George Grove (1820-1900) and The Sesquicentennial of the Crystal Palace (1851- 1936) Symposium CD 1251, available from Symposium Records, 36 Paul's Lane, Overstrand, Norfolk, NR27 OPF; or online at their website. Price £10.00, plus £1.50 postage and packaging within the UK.

Published in For The Record, March 2004 



Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.