MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Buy through MusicWeb from £11.00 postage paid World-wide. Try it on Sale or Return

Musicweb Purchase button

Nicholas MAW (b 1935)
Sinfonia (1966) [30:00]
John ADDISON (1920–1998)
Divertimento for brass quintet, op.9 (1951) [8:17]
John GARDNER (b 1917)
Theme and Variations for brass quartet, op.7 (1951) [9:55]
Stephen DODGSON (b 1924)

Sonata for brass quintet (1963) [10:48]
English Chamber Orchestra/Norman del Mar and the Philip Jones Brass Ensemble (Philip Jones and Elgar Howarth (trumpets), Ifor James (horn), John Iveson (trombone) John Fletcher (tuba))
rec. 12 October 1970, The Maltings, Snape (Maw), 3 December 1974, Decca Studio No.3, London (PJBE) ADD
reissue of Argo ZRG 676 (Maw) and ZRG 813 (PJBE)
LYRITA SRCD 307 [62:56] 

Experience Classicsonline

Much as we must be grateful to Lyrita for making available the British Council sponsored recordings from the Argo catalogue I do occasionally wish that the original couplings had been retained, for, on this disk, the intense seriousness of the Maw Sinfonia sits uncomfortably beside the lighter brass works.

The Sinfonia was Maw’s first major orchestral work after Scenes and Arias, written for the Proms in 1962, and it almost immediately followed the large scale 1st String Quartet – I wonder if Lyrita has any plans to re–issue the Aeolian Quartet recording of that fine piece which it made for Argo (ZRG 565)? Maw has always been a master of the large scale, the most famous example being Odyssey (recorded by the CBSO and Simon Rattlem on CDS 7 54277–2), but the 1st Quartet is a 40 minute one movement structure and this Sinfonia (a title which might imply something small scale) plays for over half an hour. But this is no matter for Maw is a composer who has something to say – indeed, he often has a lot to say – and he has the technical ability to say it and make it interesting and compelling.

Starting with a, somewhat, gloomy duet for clarinets, the first movement grows in concentration and after some quiet ruminations, and some very colourful writing for woodwind and horns, bursts into a fast section, full of scurrying strings, but Maw is nothing if not a lyricist and the horns carry the burden of thematic argument almost throughout this section. This is tense and closely argued music, non–tonal in language, but not atonal, but with a big romantic feel to it – the orchestration, for a small ensemble (positively Mozartean in its compliment of 2 each of flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons and horns, with doublings on piccolo and cor anglais, and strings) is very rich and sumptuous. The middle slow movement, named Threnody, has a march–like feel to it, and it never wavers in its lamentation. Despite a brief solo for violin towards the end there is little respite from the incessant despair, until the finale crashes in and launches into a lop–sided country dance! After a restrained middle section the music gains momentum and rushes to the end with the horns to the fore. It’s a fine achievement and it’s good to welcome such a fine and well wrought work back into the catalogue, especially in such a strong and well thought out and played performance. Where would so much British music of this period have been without the dedicated advocacy of the late Norman del Mar?

The brass works which follow Sinfonia, fine works though they are, are overshadowed by the great strength of Maw’s work. John Addison is best remembered for his many film scores – Pool of London (1950)(a particular favourite of mine), Reach for the Sky (1956) (the biography of Douglas Bader, who was the composer’s brother-in-law), The Charge of the Light Brigade (1968), to name but a few, the title music for the Angela Lansbury sleuthing TV series Murder She Wrote, and the ballet suite Carte Blanche which was a favourite of Beecham (his live performance of 08 November 1959 is available on BBC Legends BBCL 4012-2); Addison’s own recording, with the Pro Arte Orchestra, is available on EMI CDM 7 64718–2. The Divertimento is an early piece and is full of the Music Hall, let’s not forget that he memorably wrote the music for John Osborne’s play The Entertainer. It’s a jolly little piece.

John Gardner’s Theme and Variations, another early work, and was the first 20th century work ever broadcast on the BBC by the PJBE! As with so much of Gardner’s work there’s a strong humorous element – the tango variation, in particular, is an hoot! It’s well laid out for four players (no tuba) and is wonderfully entertaining, though it’s not without its serious side. Recently there have been issues of two of his Symphonies and other orchestral works so, at last, we can start to get to grips with his large output. About time too!

Stephen Dodgson is related to Lewis Carroll, (real name Charles Dodgson), and is his closest living relative to have the surname Dodgson. His Sonata is a short and cogently argued work with serious intent – terse working out of material, two dark slow movements – the first one muted – and a lighter scherzo, third, movement and finale, which balance the serious pieces but keep the nature of the work as a searching exploration of sonority.

These are very fine performances from the PJBE and it’s a timely reminder of the work of three great musicians who are no longer with us – Philip Jones, Ifor James and John Fletcher.

The sound throughout is marvellously clean and clear – what good original material there was to work with! The notes, by Paul Conway, are good and detailed and my only quibble is that the brass works weren’t placed first on the disk for the weight and seriousness of the Maw deserves to be left alone at the end. But full marks for this enterprising series of re–issues.

Bob Briggs


see also review by Rob Barnett





Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




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

Return to Review Index

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.