Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Listen with Prime Shop now Shop now
Profile for P. S. JONES > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by P. S. JONES
Top Reviewer Ranking: 175,948
Helpful Votes: 60

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
P. S. JONES (Liverpool, UK)

Page: 1 | 2
Offered by pharmacysaver
Price: £11.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for pressure areas, 11 Mar. 2015
My Mother is largely bed bound and confined to a wheelchair as she is a double amputee, and it relieves pressure areas like no other cream. Have not had experience of actual bedsores but for pressure areas (sacrum etc.) brilliant. Provides immediate relief.

Zimmermann: Die Soldaten (Salzburg 2012) Alfred Muff, Laura Aikin, Tanja Ariane Baumgartner] [Euroarts: 2072588] [DVD] [NTSC] [2013]
Zimmermann: Die Soldaten (Salzburg 2012) Alfred Muff, Laura Aikin, Tanja Ariane Baumgartner] [Euroarts: 2072588] [DVD] [NTSC] [2013]
Dvd ~ Alfred Muff
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £19.46

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 27 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have long ceased being the slightest bit interested in serial music, but Die Soldaten really is worth a look from various perspectives. As a legendary audio recording in the 60s-70s it held a fascination for its sheer proportions and was of course rarely staged. If you dislike atonal/serial music all I can say is that Zimmermann produced what is possibly the last great stage work of the post-Darmstadt era, but it shines far above any atonal opera produced since then. For me it survives purely on the amazing vocal writing. Laying aside Zimmermann's concepts of time and the multi-layering action (which isn't really difficult) it flows without boredom, and soars at times in ensembles, trios and solos of immense and shocking romanticism.

The cast is faultless, the production stunning. Veteran Gabriela Benackova commands the difficult role of the Countess with a presence like none other. What a part! Daniel Brenna steals the show for me as the extremely unlikeable Desportes, and I was very impressed with Matjaz Robavs as Major Haudy. The main characters are sung with equal opera house finesse by Aiken, Muff and Konieczny and need no introduction.

What redeems serialism here is a sense of line, narrative, and musical construction, which can sadly lack in more recent atonal operas. That and the seamless action complete with real horses, excellent lighting and a massive 170 piece orchestra is something to behold. My only complaint is that some of Zimmermann's desired projected images were omitted and there were a little too many Victorian titillation slides; I would have liked some more references to war, particularly as the production brilliantly sets the story in WW1.

It's not all 'noise'; there are some beautiful quiet sections, especially the Nocturnes, which create haunting dreamlike scenes. There are detailed reviews of this production on, one by Autonomeus being the most descriptive and helpful, and very much worth reading.

The Makropulos Case - Glyndebourne Festival Opera [1995] [DVD] [2003] [NTSC] [2001]
The Makropulos Case - Glyndebourne Festival Opera [1995] [DVD] [2003] [NTSC] [2001]
Dvd ~ Glyndebourne Festival Opera
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £9.42

3.0 out of 5 stars Silja 10/10; Channel 4 2/10, 25 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It's OK, a traditional take with a few liberties. For Silja fans it's a must, as she is absolutely superb. Whoever designed the costumes and put her in a leather pseudo-Nazi getup in the final act needs shooting. Seriously. The UK Channel 4 relay is typical of the nineties: no curtain calls, no audience visible, no introduction, etc. Pretty faceless as a production, as someone else has noted here. The Salzburg production from 2011 is far superior musically, which is a shame as Britain has championed a lot of Janacek over the years. Silja is of course worth seeing in this as she virtually owned the role for thirty odd years. It shows. The production is a little sterile, the music rushed. For more romantic lushness, listen to the Salonen.

Janacek, L.: Operatic Orchestral Suites, Vol. 3 - the Cunning Little Vixen / From the House of the Dead
Janacek, L.: Operatic Orchestral Suites, Vol. 3 - the Cunning Little Vixen / From the House of the Dead
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Strings, 20 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I agree with all posted in the initial review here ( by C&C Bartok). Breiner has only made one mistake, and that's leaving out the wonderful concluding aria by the Gamekeeper (as he also leaves out Emilia Marty's beautiful aria from the Makropulos suite on another album)! However the suites are brilliant, especially those for Katia Kabanova and House of the Dead. Buy all three albums.

Breiner has trained the New Zealand Orchestra well in Janacek's operatic music, particularly in the string writing, which is notoriously difficult to interpret to gain the fullness and richness of sound required especially in this style with polarised high and low register writing. Here it is superbly played. Some people may find his tempos unusual at times but as a Janacek lover, all I can say is that every time you hear another orchestra play this music you hear new sounds and notice things happening you weren't previously aware of. These albums are superbly recorded and played. The shattering power of Janacek's operatic scores is something to wallow in and really enjoy, and the provision of these well-ordered suites (long overdue for the concert hall) is welcome. I would like to hear maybe some studio recordings of this orchestra playing the complete operas under Breiner. Well done.

Janacek: The Makropulos Case [DVD] [2012] [NTSC]
Janacek: The Makropulos Case [DVD] [2012] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Janacek
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £25.13

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The scientific experiment that went right, 18 July 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Try not to read the synopsis first, watch the opera. It's quite a story. If you've never seen it because people tell you it's an oddity or you've been told it's 'difficult', take no notice and enjoy what I think is probably Janacek's most glorious operatic score, orchestrally. His music isn't fragmented, it is logical and works as a commentary; lots of themes and dramatic monologues link and weave around the action and Act III of Makropulos contains some of his most heartfelt music. Throughout the opera Salonen doesn't allow any of the rhythmical or dramatic music to drag, yet gives lots of space for the romantic sections, sometimes too hurried in other performances.

Janacek is Janacek; don't think about Wagner, Strauss or Berg, just enjoy his ability to present you with explosions of romanticism and great atmospheric drama in his own way. The Vienna Philharmonic are the stars of this performance as much as the excellent cast, varying reviews of which are worth reading elsewhere here.

The production is unusual; its intention was partly to restore some of the comedy and maybe absurdity of Karel Capek's original play. I really do advise watching it without knowing the story; the text is self explanatory and it'll become clearer with repeated viewings. It's not pure science fiction, but has intrigue and a fantastical edge, and there's a lot of Kafka/Escher type references in the action. The static setting doesn't detract from the story.

I found Angela Denoke magnificent as Emilia Marty; the way she almost recedes into the sixteen-year-old character from where it all began is well presented; she sings the final scene out into the theatre from the edge of the stage, not rushed, sharing all the heart-breaking sentiment with us almost like a concert performance. I love it. The more you get to know this section the more you realise it ranks high among the great operatic final scenes of all time. Specifically here, Salonen's control of the musical flow is very supportive.

Raymond Very portrays Bertie as Emilia describes him: a 'Mummy's boy', and hits some marvellous high notes with great ease. Johan Reuter's baritone fills the hall (an amazing acoustic venue) and Jurgita Adamonytë is a lovely excitable Krista. There's a rather unnerving side to this production, and I'd like to read more about Marthaler's intentions than we get in the accompanying booklet.

I was extremely impressed with the sound on this DVD; balance and tone are well preserved and the fulminant power of Janacek's music is arresting. I would have liked a few close shots of the orchestra! But enjoy the lovely chance meeting with a little visitor at a very poignant moment.

Janacek: Jenufa (Gran Teatre Del Liceu) [DVD] [2012] [NTSC]
Janacek: Jenufa (Gran Teatre Del Liceu) [DVD] [2012] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Nina Stemme

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting performance from Eva Marton as the Kostelnicka, 2 Jun. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There are good reviews on expressing likes and dislikes of this staging (as at December 2014, neither the other two reviews here nor the product description above are about this Barcelona production!) ...but I didn't find it as minimalist as I thought it would be. Although the second act lacks a set, the presence of the boulder doesn't detract from the libretto describing what's happening. Some reviewers think the orchestra doesn't interpret the music well enough but there are two factors here: the version used is the Dürr edition and I do think there's a slight imbalance in the recording. The on-stage soloists sound wonderful while sometimes the orchestra is a little distant. But I have no complaints about the playing! Don't let these minor problems put you off enjoying this production.

I always think the Spanish do Janacek brilliantly, and José Luis Basso's excellently trained chorus would have had more effect here if the sound on the film was better.

What you must see this production for (alongside every lead character being brilliant anyway) is Eva Marton's portrayal of the Kostelnicka. She had me riveted, and the absence of traditional scenery in Act 2 is more than compensated for by her dramatic presence and breathtaking power. This merits a curtain call after the act from her and Nina Stemme. I was impressed.

Korngold: Die Tote Stadt [DVD] [2000] [NTSC]
Korngold: Die Tote Stadt [DVD] [2000] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Stefan Vinke
Price: £19.35

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving And Well Staged, 9 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Stefan Vinke's singing in this production may be an acquired taste to some, but I found his portrayal of Paul extremely moving. With a huge orchestra and a difficult score to conquer it is a formidable task for anyone. Vinke truly sings his heart out, and I loved every minute.

Solveig Kringelborn as Marietta is true to the character in every way; the sense of drama both in her voice and acting is second to none. Amazon reviewer Archie's comparison of this and the Holten production is well worth reading, so I won't elaborate. Korngold's opera was based on a very early psychological novel ("Bruges La Morte" by Georges Rodenbach) that some say influenced Hitchcock's "Vertigo". Die Tote Stadt therefore provides a curious fascination: a luscious tonal 20th century score with many recent productions after decades of neglect.

Stefan Vinke's interpretation more than satisfied me in that some of his best moments - among others the section prior to Marietta's first entrance, and later when he finally sinks to his knees crying "How unhappy I am!" - had me close to tears. The opera is famous for the Lute Song but there are many other sections like Paul's rejection of Marietta ("'Swar meine Gattin") and "Die Tote, wo lag sie/O freund!" towards the end that show Korngold as a master of line. The Fenice orchestra play brilliantly, and from following the score all the vocal lines are in place right down to intricate moments of sprechgesang.

This opera is quite an achievement in that although it is highly charged emotionally it was at the forefront of psychological drama. It's an intimate setting on a wide stage, some very effective mirrored projections, and very good sound. The scenes with the travelling opera troupe can appear somewhat dated in any production, but just put it in context and the simplicity of the time; the contrast of this camp world of amateur theatricals superbly shows up the dark nature of Paul's. For me, the wonderful duet that closes Tableau 2 could have been a little stronger musically; the choreography lacks somewhat but the lighting for the procession and where it appears in Paul's room/imagination is very effective. This is an opera which says what it means, and this performance doesn't play about. Stephan Genz has a lovely voice for Paul's friend Frank and Christa Mayer as Brigitta (the delivery of her explanation of her life to Frank is beautiful) complete an ensemble of main characters who all act very well.

It has been said that Die Tote Stadt fell out of favour with opera houses due to the advent of more modernistic pieces and more realistic story lines but I don't accept that. Korngold was forced to flee to America because of the rise of Nazism, and they banned his music anyway. After the war, the rise of the modernist movement equally 'banned' this sort of composition by its very establishment itself. Opera houses continued to put on just as much trash as serious pieces so the argument that his music was 'out of fashion' is ridiculous; it was a victim of circumstance. The intense lyricism, drama and exquisite orchestration is sublime. Enjoy. The opera portrays someone actually recovering from mental torment and accepting grief, like many people do. This is not the world of Wozzeck, nor was it intended to be.

This production at La Fenice is intimate; please give it a watch. Pizzi takes a few liberties that don't upset the original story but the important thing is the lead singers know the complex score perfectly and their portrayals are faithful to the original intentions of the composer.

Lulu: Metropolitan Opera (Levine) [DVD] [2011] [NTSC]
Lulu: Metropolitan Opera (Levine) [DVD] [2011] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Berg
Price: £12.99

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Preferable Early Performance of The 'Completed' Lulu, 9 May 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
It seems strange to talk in terms of a 'traditional' production of an opera which crossed so many boundaries and annoyed - more than shocked - the establishment for many decades, but there have truly been so many interpretations of this piece that this traditionally staged version performed and filmed in 1980 - shortly after the premiere of the three act version in Paris - is important to see.

No recording or film to my knowledge exists of the slightly earlier American premiere in Santa Fe so this is the nearest performance to the Paris premiere.

Before the more recent productions in Barcelona, London and Salzburg etc. that have appeared on DVD, a lot of Lulu lovers who couldn't travel round every European Opera House for thirty years were relegated to trawling the pits of YouTube for glimpses of interpretations. If you've hated productions of Berg's masterpiece with Lulu dumped in a skip next to a topless Geschwitz, seen Lulu acting badly in a cage during the Film Music or watched a strange character stab revolving perspex boxes during the final murder scene, then this Met Opera production is for you.

Because of this production's proximity to the Paris premiere which I never liked for its neglect of stage directions and generally uninspiring portrayal, this 'year later' traditional setting for the newly completed opera did the trick for me. The production is definitely one for those who want to see exactly what Berg intended on stage. As someone who studied the score and the opera's history many years ago with people from the post-war musical establishment with intimate connections to the Second Viennese School itself, I wasn't disappointed. No film survives of earlier two act versions from Europe or the USA so this is basically "it" as far as authenticity goes, and no other dvd available has this level of attention to the original staging.

Julia Migenes is simply wonderful in the title role, in voice and acting. She maintains an emotionless gaze beyond the action and out into the audience that fully brings out this questionable character's mystique. Veterans Franz Mazura (Dr Schon) and Andrew Foldi (Schigolch) are brilliant, and Kenneth Riegel as Alwa fresh from the Paris premiere (as is Mazura) here clothed in action and style more suited to the character. His sudden death in Act III is extremely well acted. Particular mention must go to Hilda Harris as the Schoolboy and the Page, for bringing such a minor character to life.

The film quality itself is decently restored from a telecast and the orchestra sound is extremely good; the piano and vibraphone are well heard (as is much turning of pages!) However at times the voices are lost behind this but it's a downfall we have to accept in the light of such a glut of more recent well recorded cinecasts. In my opinion Levine moves the music on with a drive and a certainty that sadly lacked in Boulez's flat interpretation. Not all of Lulu was written in serial technique, and it is famous for being free and romantic at many points, so should never be approached as a totally serial piece.

I have one big reservation: after knowing Lulu for over forty years I find myself asking the question, What is the point of it? Berg's other opera Wozzeck is also a product of early twentieth century angst and 'no way out' stories, but I still find great humanity in it. I suppose one could ask, What is the point of Tosca? but this is much more involved. I know that Lulu represents an upcoming society full of greed and want, and that she is the victim of abuse by men as much as she is the 'man eater', but there is still something unanswered after you've sat through it.

Granted, Lulu's rise and fall is famously depicted in the amazing score and musical forms employed. The critic Philip Hensher in a Guardian review of a Royal Opera production rightly said this work changed musical thinking, and he's right. It is so complex, so knitted to each character and development, that knowing the score sometimes seems more important than what the opera is about! Countless analyses of the work are relentless in their admiration of the technical achievement... but we're still 'watching an opera', and I'm not convinced. I'd be interested to hear what other people think. I see it now as a startlingly unpleasant piece of theatre with no direction.

The final London scene in Act III expresses maybe the only humanity in the whole story: not 'despair' or 'man's inhumanity to man' as in Wozzeck, but the sheer futility of what the remaining characters have done with their lives, and the hopeless hanging-on to Lulu's magic that has bewitched them. This is wonderfully portrayed by Evelyn Lear (herself once a champion of the title role) as Countess Geschwitz, ruminating on how she can possibly escape the dreadful situation. Here in the Met's premiere of one of now two 'completed' versions there is no need for revolving perspex boxes, no need to dump Lulu in the trash, but to see the sheer horror on Lear's face say it all. The character of Countess Geschwitz only comes to fruition in these dying embers of the story, and it is chilling to watch.

Wagner: Parsifal (Gatti) [DVD] [2014]
Wagner: Parsifal (Gatti) [DVD] [2014]
Dvd ~ François Girard
Price: £11.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excruciatingly Beautiful, 22 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I'm not going to quibble about modern productions, as it's always refreshing to see something like Parsifal not in pseudo Arthurian costume or classical European churchy settings. There's an interesting overview of how long conductors take to get through this score on Wikipedia, and whether it takes four or nearly five hours to perform I'm inclined to judge on quality, not quantity. And we can accept a setting for what it is, without feeling it's "relevant" to us.

There's certainly a bleak futuristic feel to this production which provides a hi-tech sci-fi atmosphere which I'm sure will impress people not familiar with opera; the periodic injection of colour is striking when it appears. Unlike some I just love the new world of projections and effects in operas especially from the Met; after years of watching singers strut about stages unable to act its refreshing to see Jonas Kaufmann, Katarina Dalayman, Rene Pape et al add a very 'filmic' dimension to the performance. And in support of them, I'd love to see a movie actor maintain something like 'anguish' or 'pity' for twenty minutes!

The projections for me do not intrude and add an amazing backdrop to some of the orchestral passages. Sometimes music is the only backdrop we need and although some modern productions are not entirely evident in their reasoning, a static feel often allows the music to speak for itself: an original intention of opera.

For such a mammoth piece I have to say I wasn't bored at any moment; I thought I would be. Dalayman is intense and allows us to share her internal portrayal, Kaufmann develops his character sympathetically and is as wonderful as ever, Mattei is gloriously lyrical; there are no embarrassing 'faux' emotions.

The landscape of Acts 1 and 3 is impressive - but maybe only because of the projections - and Act 2's cavernous space acted mostly in a real pool of blood-coloured water is effective. The bed makes sense! What doesn't make sense to me is the use of plastic stacking chairs. Please, can producers find something a bit more timeless for a timeless setting? It put me in mind of Richard Jones' Lohengrin and the formica table! The end of Act 2 was a little weak from an action point of view, for such a triumph in the story. The choreographic style in Act 2 I did find a little dated, but it was effective and clever to have the singers blend with the corps de ballet in the way they did.

The Met orchestra is powerful, thoughtfully and lovingly conducted by Gatti, and I didn't sense any loss of power like some reviewing the Blu-Ray have done. On DVD through a normal TV with good headphones, I found the climaxes positively cataclysmic.

One thing which can be said about this production is that the continuity is superb; the interview with Girard shows him to be unpretentious and quite humbled by the opera itself. From this, I accepted his interpretation alone.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 31, 2014 11:00 AM GMT

Britten: Peter Grimes (Live from The Met) [DVD] [2008]
Britten: Peter Grimes (Live from The Met) [DVD] [2008]
Dvd ~ Anthony Dean Griffey
Price: £13.32

5.0 out of 5 stars The Setting Is Authentic, 7 April 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Please don't be put off by anyone saying the setting isn't right; the design was based on old fishing village buildings on the east coast of England and they sort of resemble later Victorian dockside buildings but in wood, with windows and doors on different levels from which time to time the singers appear. Its very effective and claustrophobic, the singing is second to none, the diction for a largely American cast brilliant. The whole set moving upstage in the final terrifyingly loud moments of the "He who despises us" chorus is breathtaking.

Enough has been said about leading roles but Felicity Palmer and Teddy Tahu Rhodes are wonderful as Mrs Sedley and Ned Keene. The vocal ensembles are tight, and the Met orchestra under Runnicles play Britten's well known score immaculately.

My only criticism is there could've been more storm effects, and Church of England ladies attending Matins on a Sunday morning would not have been wearing Catholic mantillas (!) but it's a minor detail. It's true that classic recordings and performances of this opera have been perceived as a norm, but this production really was filmed 'on a good night'. You can feel it.

Page: 1 | 2