£16 post free World-wide

 


555 sonatas 9Cds mp3 files
Only £22


 


Benjamin: Written on Skin £16

Search
What's New
Previous CDs
Concerts
Jazz
Nostalgia
Composers
Resources
Announce
Labels index


Every day we post 10 new Classical CD and DVD reviews. A free weekly summary is available by e-mail. MusicWeb is not a subscription site. To keep it free please purchase discs through our links.

  Classical Editor Rob Barnett    



Some items
to consider


Shostakovich 14 Petrenko


Rachmaninov #3
Prokofiev #2

 


Dunedin Consort

Peter Grimes

Hymn of Jesus: Sea Drift

Complete Mozart Edition
Mozart complete edition

Vaughan Williams Symphonies 5 & 8 £11

Weiner, Klepper, Bloch, Schulhoff £12 post free


Available again

REVIEW



Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and get a free CD

New Releases

Naxos Classical

Hyperion

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
Alto
Arcodiva
CDAccord
Centaur
Hallé
Hortus
Lyrita
Nimbus
Northern Flowers
Redcliffe
Sheva
Talent
Toccata Classics


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly newsletter
 

Buy through MusicWeb
for £10.50 postage paid World-wide.

Musicweb Purchase button

Algernon ASHTON (1859-1937)
Music for Cello and Piano - Volume 1
Arioso Op.43 (publ. 1889) [7:23]
Sonata No.1 in F major Op.6 (publ. 1880) [22:39]
Phantasiestücke Op.12 (publ. 1883) [12:32]
Sonata No.2 in G major Op.75 (1885) [25:41]
Evva Mizerska (cello); Emma Abbate (piano)
rec. Challow Park Studios, Oxfordshire, England, 6-8 December 2011
TOCCATA CLASSICS TOCC 0143 [68:15]

Experience Classicsonline



 
Here’s a disc I really wanted to like a lot. Algernon Ashton’s life story reads like a musical ‘boy’s own’ adventure. Born the youngest of twelve children, father dies, family moves to Germany, befriended by Clara Schumann, attends soirées together with Moscheles, Rubinstein, Dvorák and Brahms, studies in Leipzig with Reinecke and is a major prize-winner, studies some more with Raff, appointed piano professor at the Royal Academy of Music at 25 just for starters. As well as teaching composes massively; 174 opus numbers including 24 string quartets and 24 piano sonatas both in all the keys. Add at least five symphonies, two concertos, a cantata and songs oh, and a stream of writing to newspapers which resulted in two published anthologies of his writings of over 1100 letters and you get some sense of a man for whom the word ‘productive’ probably means dashing off fifty bars and a letter to the editor before breakfast.
 
So why is it only now, and thanks yet again to those wonderful resurrectionists at Toccata Classics (acknowledging too a disc of Sonatas on Dutton) that we have a chance to assess his lasting worth. The answer is twofold; sadly most of his manuscript works seem to have been destroyed along with the family house during the Blitz and that which was published – as evidenced here – for all its fluency and competence does not demand or command attention. That said, the positives with this disc are several. As one has grown to expect the production of this Toccata Classics disc is first rate. Excellent musical and technical values backed up by a liner of superb interest written by the ever insightful and dependable Malcolm MacDonald. I have not encountered the playing of either cellist Evva Mizerska or pianist Emma Abbate before. They are an established duo and play with great technical address and skill – indeed I cannot imagine a more convincing case being made for this music. The recording is rather close – but the playing can bear such scrutiny and indeed the transfer of the disc has been made at a high level, not that there are any problems caused by that - simply I was aware of the need to turn my system two or three notches down from my usual listening volume. That being said, the sound is rich and full with Ashton’s complex writing registering clearly and with maximum impact.
 
Which leaves the music itself; “one of the best kept secrets in British music” states the CD cover of these first recordings. I would beg to differ. If ever there was a case where fluency becomes a curse it must surely be here. The mental image I kept getting was of a tap being turned on or off. Drop into any of the movements here and the emotional temperature is pretty much the same defined by the ‘type’ of movement – 1st movement serious and worked out, 2nd – songlike and lyrical, 3rd – more light-hearted [MacDonald is certainly right – the closing movements are without exception the best]. There seems to be little or no emotional arc within movements let alone works - its Romanticism by the yard. Not once did I feel any real emotional depth or an imperative artistic need to create. Well-crafted, workmanlike and not without appeal but no lost masterpieces. That the second sonata is a considerable improvement on the first there is little doubt with the distribution of musical material and its development far more convincingly handled and shared between the players. This work also contains the most memorable melodies on the disc – I was rather taken by the stand-alone Arioso that opens the CD but that rather outstays its welcome and becomes the victim of its own note-spinning-too-thick-textured-by-half tendency. For those who are curious; this score – together with several others by Ashton - can be viewed on the wonderful IMSLP website – I rather like the tempo marking; Larghetto generoso.
 
I am the first to applaud this and other labels’ efforts on behalf of forgotten composers. Make no mistake, Ashton writes eminently serviceable music which is perfectly good within its own conservative remit. The problem is he is no more than that. Not every forgotten composer can be unjustly forgotten. In the spirit of fairness I would recommend reading Rutland Boughton’s highly enthusiastic critique of Ashton’s music which can be found elsewhere on this site – here are two quotes; The more modern music I study - German, English, French, Italian, Russian the more assured do I feel that in Algernon Ashton we possess the greatest living composer”
and [referring to the Op.90 Piano Quartet also available to view on IMSLP] What music this Finale is! How the giant rejoices in his strength! This is the music of elemental humanity, exulting in the open, naked to the sun, to the rains and to the snows; shouting, aloud to the heavens, glorifying itself and renewing its glory, - and thus the glory of its first great cause!” Erm, yes – I think Boughton likes it more than me.

Admirers of these artists or indeed those with a compulsive fascination for cello repertoire need not hesitate – this disc serves those parties very well. There seem to be a total of four sonatas so I imagine Volume 2 will complete the set. For the rest, one feels Ashton should be left snoozing away eternity in the great gentleman’s club in the sky contemplating his next epistle to the Heavenly Times.
 
Nick Barnard
 

 
See articles by Harold Truscott and Rutland Boughton; also list of works.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


EXPLORE MUSICWEB INTERNATIONAL

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

 

Discographies
   Composer
      Composer surveys
   National
      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

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

Nostalgia

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

Comment
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

Announcements

 

Community
Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Reviewers
Pat and present

Helpers invited!

Resources
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
Publishers
Other links
Newsgroups
Web News sites etc

PotPourri
A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Questionnaire    
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
Dictionary
Magazines
Newsfeed  
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.