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Alban Berg
Alban Berg
by Theodor W. Adorno
Edition: Paperback
Price: 23.65

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunning, 22 Aug 2009
This review is from: Alban Berg (Paperback)
This book is a collection of Adorno's essays written throughout his life, compiled and edited by the author in the year before his death. Adorno is better known as a philosopher of Marxist persuasion, but here he returns to the area of writing with which he began his career (music criticism), and to the composer who was his friend and mentor.

It is quite difficult to describe just how a collection of essays on the life and works of a particular composer manages to transcend its genre and become such an astonishing piece of literature. The Times Literary Supplement, quoted in the Amazon description, make a good attempt, but still doesn't come close. I bought this book expecting to learn something about some music I liked, but the book is not about that at all - or rather what the music meant to Adorno was so much more than what I was expecting.

This book changed my understanding of what a piece of critical writing can be. If you have any interest at all in music, the arts or just human beings in general, I would recommend that you read this book!

The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century
The Rest is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century
by Alex Ross
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.87

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 22 Aug 2009
As someone with a keen interest in 20th Century music and history, albeit from a layman's perspective, I was attracted to this book as a popular (i.e. not too technical) overview of the music of the last century. It has received some stellar reviews, and while there were pages where I was moved, entertained and/or swept away by the author's passion and enthusiasm, I still found myself feeling ultimately rather disappointed.

Rather than focus on a handful of key figures, or list every single significant composer, the author chooses to place his book somewhere in the middle; unfortunately I found this approach neither detailed enough to be engaging nor complete enough in its overview to give a clear picture of its subject. In fact, I found the writing to be quite repetitive in form - a bit of biographical background, an amusing anecdote linking the composer with another mentioned a few pages previous, and then on to the next name on the list. I started to get bored quite early on!

One or two reviews have commented on the book's bias towards music from the US. I feel that the author is justified in this - he is an American music critic living and working in the US, and he makes it quite clear from the start that he intends to address a certain imbalance in music criticism which he feels has previously overlooked the contribution of American composers and institutions to classical music. Sadly, his well-meaning attempt to defend the validity of 'pop' music towards the end of the book (which could be summed up as, "If you listen hard enough, some of it even sounds like *our* music!") ends up only reaffirming the snobbery and elitism it seeks to combat. I finished the book feeling rather discouraged from exploring contemporary classical music further.

My feelings towards 'The Rest Is Noise' were probably heavily influenced by the book I read prior to it, which happened to be Theodor Adorno's book on Alban Berg - a detailed, complex, poetic and ultimately deeply moving tome which in the end is as much a dialogue between two close friends as it is a piece of music criticism. Ross' book is a completely different beast entirely; perhaps part of my disappointment was a result of unfair comparison.

But at most, only part.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 21, 2009 11:25 AM BST

Panasonic Lumix TZ6 Digital Camera - Black (10.1MP, 12x Optical Zoom) 2.7 inch LCD
Panasonic Lumix TZ6 Digital Camera - Black (10.1MP, 12x Optical Zoom) 2.7 inch LCD

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent all-round compact, 22 Aug 2009
I've been using this camera for a couple of months now and I've been impressed by the sharpness and colouring of its images, its excellent battery life, and its ease of use. Noise becomes an issue at extreme zoom levels, but is otherwise very well controlled. The build quality is also very solid. My one gripe with the TZ6 is that the dial used for switching between shooting modes often moves when pulling the camera out of bags, pockets etc - on several occasions this has resulted in shooting quite a few pictures in the wrong mode before realising what has happened.

The TZ6 is capable of taking decent quality videos, but its more expensive brother, the TZ7, has much better video-taking features.

Overall I am very pleased with this camera.

Cherry eVolution STREAM Corded MultiMedia Keyboard Light Grey
Cherry eVolution STREAM Corded MultiMedia Keyboard Light Grey

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does one thing and does it well, 22 Aug 2009
The Cherry eVolution STREAM is a simple, no-frills corded USB keyboard with a flat, low profile. It has no USB hubs, LCD screens, inbuilt touchpads or any other flashy features, with the exception of a row of six (very small) multimedia keys at the top.

Keyboards are very much a matter of personal taste these days, but after two months' use I find the STREAM very comfortable and intuitive. The relatively flat design with shallow keys make getting around the board easy for typists; those who spend a lot of time pummelling the same key repeatedly (gamers I'm looking at you here) might prefer taller keys.

In action the keys are light and springy, and for the most part are placed exactly where my fingers expect them to be - the one exception being the row of function buttons at the top, which are smaller than the rest of the keys and are separated from them by quite a large gap, making those Ctrl-F* shortcuts quite a stretch. Personally I find that the decision to shorten the space bar and make the other keys on the bottom row larger suits my typing style well, but I suspect the same won't be true for everyone. Although the description on the Amazon page promises ultra-quiet operation, I found this keyboard to be quite noisy in use; however this is not necessarily a bad thing - a clear 'click' when you hit a key lets you know you hit it properly. The STREAM is still quieter than an old IBM-style keyboard.

Build quality is very good, and the keyboard sits rock solid on the desk. When I received the unit I was somewhat dismayed to find that it had two plastic swing-out feet. I try to avoid keyboards with feet like these, as they tend to snap off very easily, but the STREAM's feet are stronger than most and are set in a deep recess to help prevent breakage, leaving me feeling somewhat more confident.

I would recommend this product to anyone looking for a no-frills, low profile typing keyboard, though gamers and those seeking extra USB ports or multimedia keys might want to look elsewhere.

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