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

in the first division

extraordinary by any standards

An excellent disc

a new benchmark

summation of a lifetime’s experience.

Piano Concertos 1 and 2
Surprise Best Seller and now

A Garland for John McCabe


DIETHELM Symphonies

The best Rite of Spring in Years

BACH Magnificat

Brian Symphs 8, 21, 26

Just enjoy it!

La Mer Ticciati








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


CD: MDT AmazonUK AmazonUS
Sound Samples & Downloads

Richard WAGNER (1813-1883)
Orchestral Excerpts - 2
A Faust Overture [10:45]
Prelude (Lohengrin, Act I) [11:09]
*Elsa's Dream (Lohengrin, Act I) [7:37]
Prelude and Wedding March (Lohengrin, Act III) [3:35]
Prelude (Parsifal, Act I) [14:52]
Prelude (Parsifal, Act III) [5:30]
Good Friday Spell (Parsifal, Act III) [11:13]
Wotan's Farewell and Magic Fire Music (Die Walküre, Act III) [15:29]
*Alessandra Marc (soprano)
Seattle Symphony/Gerard Schwarz
Recorded: Seattle Opera House, Washington USA, 21 October 1987; 19-20 February 1992 (Faust, Elsa's Dream). DDD
NAXOS 8.572768 [64:41] 

Experience Classicsonline

This is the second of three volumes released by Naxos more or less simultaneously, reanimating some oldish Delos recordings. Leaving aside any questions regarding the point or musical validity of orchestral 'bleeding chunks' cleft from Wagner's great operas, previous releases in this line by Naxos date back twenty years and now lie gathering dust in the basement - not altogether undeservingly. Apart from countless 'best of opera'-style compilations, there are two volumes entitled 'Orchestral Highlights from Operas' and instrumental excerpts from The Ring on three separate discs by different ensembles and conductors (8.550136, 8.550498, 8.550221). More recently, Naxos Historical issued Wilhelm Furtwängler's own recordings of Wagner orchestral highlights (8.111348, 8.110997), and although these are better with regard to performance, in all cases sound quality is below par.
Unfortunately a quick skim through these Gerard Schwarz recordings identifies similar technical shortcomings. Sound is not bad exactly. There is pretty good stereo and the different sections of the orchestra are generally well defined - Schwarz's direction playing a role too in that regard. Yet there is minor sound distortion in the louder sections of most of the works, and overall the audio often has a rather thin, muddy/lossy quality, again most noticeable in the higher-volume sections. In other words, whether audio is impressive enough to warrant a rescue of these recordings from the vaults is debatable - especially when there are still quite a few old Delos discs in circulation. On the other hand, Naxos now own the copyright for these recordings, so once the originals have all been taken, this reissue may well be worth another look.

There is no doubt Schwarz and the Seattle Symphony make a fine team. They have recorded prolifically for Naxos over the years, especially American repertoire - although their recent Rimsky-Korsakov volumes are particularly praiseworthy (8.572693, 8.572787, 8.572788). Whether they have quite the right temperament for Wagner's deeply serious music is more debatable, but the Seattle sound is urbane and relaxed, directed with the lightest of touches by the highly dependable Schwarz. Not surprisingly, they are at their best in the upbeat Act III Prelude to Lohengrin.
In the end, however, with so many alternatives in the huge Wagner discography, sound quality is just not good enough for either of the first two volumes, sharing recordings from the same sessions, to merit a place on the shelf. There is minor audio distortion in all the louder sections, and overall the sound often has a rather thin, muddy/lossy quality, again most noticeable in the higher-volume passages. A final irritant is that the recordings are very quiet, somewhere around a third of the norm, giving the music - the Faust Overture in particular - a lacklustre quality that it is hard to get past.
The booklet (leaflet) notes by veteran annotator Keith Anderson are detailed and germane to the music, and Naxos provide, not strictly necessarily, text and translation of Elsa's Dream as sung by Alessandra Marc. Her warm, attractive voice notwithstanding, the inclusion of a sung excerpt goes rather against the album concept. As a compilation, by the way, this CD - for those determined to acquire it - works less well than the first of the set, which offered more variety of tempo and dynamics: much of the music here is on the soft and slowish side.
Collected reviews and contact at    

see also review by Rob Maynard
































































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

Pat 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.