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J. Vich "A. R." (Prague, Czech Republic, EUROPE)

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Pentax K-m + 18-55 mm DAL Digital SLR and Lens Kit
Pentax K-m + 18-55 mm DAL Digital SLR and Lens Kit

5.0 out of 5 stars Top choice in < 700GBP price range, 4 Aug 2010
Most has been said in previous reviews. This camera comfortably outperforms all what is in dslr-entry-level and succefuly competes with higher level cameras.

Top feratures: great ISO performance / noise control, stabilized body, AA power source (> 1000 photos and with good 2700 NiMHs even over 1500 easily - can't be matched by any proprietary li-on battery). Good kit lens.

And really excellent photo results. Pentax made fantastic job putting togehter useful and advanced features (which are often found in semi-pro range) into compact body with high quality CMOS chip and control.

Truly top stuff, well done, Pentax.

Glinka: Overtures & Dances
Glinka: Overtures & Dances
Price: 6.74

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best available performances, 22 April 2005
Glinka's is very fine composer with gift of rich musical expression and natural orchestration. Nevertheless, most of his works are in the shadow of Ruslan and Lyudmila overture and his opera Life for the Tsar. Wrongfully, I think. Both his spanish overtures and waltz-fantasia are good compositions, and maestro Svetlanov with USSR SO delivers best available performacnes ever recorded. Do not be afraid of recording date, the sound is clear, full and satysfiyng (with exception of two pieces from Ruslan and Lyudmila, where sound is just average and not much bright). This Regis disc is not only excellent bargain, but also rare re-release of recent Melodiya recordings, unavailable for long time.
Even if this CD would be full-price disc, I would recommend it to any serious classical music lover as must-have. Compared to other available recording of same (and more) pieces with Sinaisky / BBC Philharmonic, which I also own, Svetlanov is far better.

Tchaikovsky Festival: Marche Slave, Capriccio Italien, Romeo & Juliet, 1812 Overture
Tchaikovsky Festival: Marche Slave, Capriccio Italien, Romeo & Juliet, 1812 Overture
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 6.62

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary performances, 28 Dec 2004
Naxos is truly a bargain label, but often with good selection of performers. Due to this, sometimes they produce recordings, which outshine more renowned labels. This recording of Tchaikovsky most popular orchestral compositions is very excellent and apparently well prepared performance. All other pieces are performed with eminent precision - and does not suffer from slightly faster tempi, chosen by Adrian Leaper. Only minor deficiencies in the brass playing in 1812 Overture could be named as reason, why this recording is not definitive. Over many other recordings, choice of this one is wise thing to do.

Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition
Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition
Price: 14.99

5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than many other recordings, 27 Dec 2004
Belive it or not, looking for very good performance of such known composition is not easy in this case. Mussorgsky's "Pictures" are quite simple music (instrumentally - I mean an orchestral version, Ravel's orchestration), in most parts only few intruments do play together, so every mistake is very obvious. The other aspect of that "simplicity" is, that "Pictures" need an extra attention and concern from conudctor, to be performed as a story-telling music. In every other case, only boring result, comes out.
This performance is, fortunately, the first case. Note: Generally, I am NOT favourer of Wiener Philharmoniker, because I find their playing often inaccurate (especially in brass and woodwind sections), as I do not like their typical sound of putting on (starting to play) violins - I find it too harsh for such (over)famed orchestra. The violins section has also problems with extra swift parts on number of recordings... well, back to this CD. What I wrote above, applies to it only minimally (what a surprise). But what makes the CD rare, is Gergiev's reading of "Pictures". He did very sensitive job, "Il Vecchio Castello" is so lyrical, that words cannot describe it, as is "Bydlo". But he also did not miss cheerful elements of "Tuileries", "Ballet" and "Limoges". For every single piece, he is getting proper playing from orchestra. The last two pieces, "La Cabane" and "Grande Porte" are performed with necessary solemnity and heaviness AND in regular tempi (which is often missing in other recordings - for example Polyansky's "Grane Porte" (Great Gate) on recording of Chandos with Russian State Symphony Orchestra, sounds like funeral march and totally lacks atmosphere). So once again, in capturing moods and spirit of every single part of "Pictures", this recording is truly outstanding. The same applies to other recorded compostions, especially to "Night on Bare Mountain", which is here performed with unusual ferocity and bravery. Also Wiener Philharmoniker accomplished extraordinary good playing, so why only four stars?
Because of Philips. I do not why, but even their most recent recordings sounds often unclear, noisy, not well ballanced and sometimes posses unacceptably high level of background noise (if you do not belive, try some of Philips's recordings of russian operas with maestro Gergiev). This recording is affected only by few of "Philips effects" - the sound of all strings except violins is noisy and recored poorly, as are some of larger orchestral parts. This is only little warning, I found myself familiar with this recording, despite of what I wrote above.

Brahms - Hungarian Dances
Brahms - Hungarian Dances
Price: 6.01

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly excellent, 26 Dec 2004
When looking for good reading of Brahms's complete Hungarian Dances, I tried also this recording - and it became my final choice. Very fine and polished, but still enough "dancing" performance, with balanced performances of all dances (there is no one, which could semm worse preformed than others) and very good recording quality, that's why this bargain-priced disc beats lots of recodrings of much more famous orchestras / conductors.

Khachaturian: Symphony 3; Ippolitov-Ivanov: Caucasian Sketches
Khachaturian: Symphony 3; Ippolitov-Ivanov: Caucasian Sketches
Price: 14.48

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid recording, 25 Dec 2004
Ippolitov-Ivanov compostition, Caucasian Sketeches, is nice one, easy-listening and decent, but key works of this disc are two Khachaturian's works. Both are performed in most excellent way, but it may happen, that you will not like the symphony, as it is quite experimental work (including large organ parts and some very heavy brass parts). But it is Khachaturian, so it is still very understandable work, and work of much musical beauty I would say.

Serenade for Strings
Serenade for Strings
Offered by Naxos Direct UK
Price: 5.99

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suprisingly one the the top performances available, 25 Dec 2004
This review is from: Serenade for Strings (Audio CD)
Naxos is bargain label, but sometimes, its recordings must be counted to the top category, according to musical performance quality (and in the sound quality too).
This is just the case - especially in Dvorak's Serenade. Compared to many others, this performace is one of the top ever recorded. For both compositions, I would recommend you to choose from any Czech (or former Czechoslovakian) orchsetra and conductor, and from those, Capella Istropolitana is excellent choice. More skillfully than others, they deliver the joy and happiness - which is engine of Dvorak's Serenede, and they are very capable of catching Suk's melancholic moods, painted in his serenade. Strongly recommended - and stay far from Marriner's, Kempe's, or simillar performances of these piece(s).

Strauss: Symphonic Poems, Vol. 2
Strauss: Symphonic Poems, Vol. 2
Price: 13.03

3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average performances, 25 Dec 2004
According to my opinion, these intepretations - compared i.e. to Karajan or Bohm, are much less dynamic. Jarvi's reading brings is very damped result, with very detailed intepretation, but nearly no story-telling and ferocity, necessary for some of R. Strauss's symphonic poems. I find detailed and soft intepretation very suitable for Don Quixote and Symphonia Domestica, but I think there are far better (more vivid and spirited) intepretations of Eulenspiegel, Macbeth, and Zarathustra (Bohm for sure, Blomstedt, Kempe probably, and Karajan sometimes - I prefer Bohm's or Blomstedt's excellent reading of most R. Strauss compositions).
Anyway, I must appreciate Jarvi's intepretation of Don Quixote once more, it is really well done.
Finally, I gave three stars, because I heard some R. Strauss pieces at the concerto recently - under maestro Blomstedt's, conducting Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, and Jarvi's results with same pieces are notably worse (although I like mr. Neeme Jarvi as conductor very very much).
This set is valuable as alternative if you already another with some of conductors written above. If this should be first (or only one) R. Strauss's recording you will own, I would recommend you going for someone esle than mr. Jarvi.

Dvorak - Slavonic Dances
Dvorak - Slavonic Dances
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 21.95

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very excellent recording, 25 Dec 2004
I spent many days choosing the best recording of (complete) Slavonic Dances. One thing I looked for was Czech interpretaton of the composition (i.e. no american orchestras), the other was, naturally, top muscial quality of whole performance. Lastly, only two recordings remained for me to choose from: Sir Charles Mackerras with Czech PO (Supraphon), and Rafael Kubelik with Bavarian RSO (DG). I think both of these recordings are great, whereas Kubelik's reading is close to dance aspect of the works, and posses swifter tempi, while Mackerras's recording is pointed to precious shift of every note to final musical result and delivers very fairily flowing performace with great sense for every detail.
If you would like to own, well lets say more "folk-like" intepretation of Dvorak's Slavonic Dances, choose Kubelik ; if you prefer more artistic, I can say probably "academic" reading of the works, Sir Mackerras is the right selection for you. And if sound quality of recording is imporant to you, be assured, that Supraphon recording is totally clear and superb, while DG - although remastered in this release - has just average sound quality with a bit of background noise.

Khachaturian: Piano Concerto, Violin Concerto, Masquerade Suite, Symphony 2
Khachaturian: Piano Concerto, Violin Concerto, Masquerade Suite, Symphony 2
Price: 7.72

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Above-average performances, but..., 25 Dec 2004
...well, both concertos as as writen above - not the best, but above-average for sure. And with note, that Violin concerto is very good, while Piano concerto is performed worse. Masquerade suite with maestro Stanley Black is excellent. Everything OK up to now - but here it comes: the most important work of the two-cd set, Khachaturian's rarely recorded Symphony No.2 (only two other recordings exist - scandalous, because it is a masterpiece!), is superb, ultimate preformance - far far best from all available, but the recording quality of the symphony is TERRIBLE. I do not often complain for sound quality of recordings, but in this case, it is simply unacceptable. The sound frays out often in heights, and in way, which will cause you pain, if volume is up. Whole recording is way too sharp, that's the problem. And in rich orchestral parts, the sound is very noisy & unclear. Big dishonour for Decca, but sound problems are not rare with this label... Really annoying, beacause the syphony is perfromed so so perfectly.

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