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R. Hakemulder (Senegal)
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Scarlatti: 50 Harpsichord Sonatas
Scarlatti: 50 Harpsichord Sonatas
Price: £19.72

5.0 out of 5 stars Best Scarlatti on any instrument, 7 Jun. 2016
It is a pity Amazon has not linked this set to the reviews of the single CDs it brings together, which are all glowing. Like no one else on piano or harpsichord Hantai brings out everything that can be found is this great music: passion, joy, despair, dance, tenderness and violence. His virtuosity is unmatched, the instrument perfect for the music. Don't miss it, whether you are already a Scarlatti enthusiast or not. And pick up Scarlatti 4 while you are at it.


D. Scarlatti: Piano Sonatas
D. Scarlatti: Piano Sonatas
Price: £21.98

5.0 out of 5 stars (too?) lovely, 26 Mar. 2016
After a first hearing I put these recordings aside a while, finding them a bit superficial, too "nice". Where were Scarlatti's rough edges and the searching quality of many of his sonatas? After listening to them a second time (and since addictivelly I must admit) they have become a favourite. These virtuoso interpretations are joyous, nuanced and imaginative (indeed, Ms Huangci takes some liberties, but I can't imagine Scarlatti, or Maria Barbara for that matter playing these exactly as written). Intensity is not missing either, and the sadness sounds true rather than degenerating into easy melancholy. So we'll do without the rough edges (usually missing from piano versions anyway) and simply enjoy the riches we're offered here.


Scarlatti:  Duende, harpsichord sonatas /Sempé · Fortin
Scarlatti: Duende, harpsichord sonatas /Sempé · Fortin
Price: £13.94

5.0 out of 5 stars mysterious power, 13 Nov. 2015
I don't think it is possible to have too much Scarlatti. Even if you have a good recording of all his sonatas (Belder), the great Hantai set, and some good piano versions, Sempe's Duende is a must. And if you have no Scarlatti, this should be your first one. Sempe's Scarlatti is more lyrical than Hantai's, and remarkable for freedom of interpretation while avoiding irritating mannerisms or exaggerated embellishments and improvisation. Plunge into Scarlatti’s duende, “the mysterious power which everyone senses and no philosopher explains”.


Lully: Armide (Stephanie D'Oustrac, Paul Agnew/Les Arts Florissants/William Christie) [DVD] [2011]
Lully: Armide (Stephanie D'Oustrac, Paul Agnew/Les Arts Florissants/William Christie) [DVD] [2011]
Dvd ~ Lully
Price: £29.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Best Lully, 13 Nov. 2015
This is the best Lully opera recording I know (and that includes Atys). The playing and singing are intense as well as expert. Stephanie D'Oustrac is, as usual, the star of the show: the explosion in the audience when she appears alone on stage after the final act says it all. But Paul Agnew is a worthy haute contre counterpart, and Christie and his Arts Florissants are glorious, with nothing of the obvious scholarliness which constrains some baroque opera performances. If Lully's operas have the chance to be considered great, this is it. The imaginative staging aims to speak to a modern audience and it will succeed in doing so if you leave behind preconceptions about what a baroque opera should be like. The ballets are “modern” without being distracting. There's much to be said for candle-lit staging with stylised acting, but I don't think anything could rival the emotional impact of the great passacaglia and the final act in this version.


Scarlatti: Complete Keyboard Works
Scarlatti: Complete Keyboard Works

5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss Belder's Scarlatti, 27 Feb. 2015
Hantai may dig deeper (his three fascinating CDs seek to "redefine" Scarlatti one review noted), Sempe may sound more spacious and free, but Belder's playing has a quality all its own: lively, joyous, spontaneous, though when needed he can also find the "desperation" in Scarlatti that Hantai looks for. Plus... he keeps it up for 36 CDs rather than just 3, with only a few not being worth listening to more than once (from the period Scarlatti was still doing generic Baroque). Belder's choice of instruments is great and includes a copy of one of the first (Florentine) pianos. Recording quality is excellent too. In other words, if you want to hear more of Scarlatti than what star pianists usually offer, and be surprised by how much that is wonderful there is to discover, this is a set you should not miss. Strange though that the price has nearly doubled since I bought it, while Amazon Germany offers it for 99 Euro and a mainstream supplier in the Netherlands offers it for less than 60 (what I paid at Amazon more than a year ago). Afraid of competition for Lester's new set maybe?.


The Barbarians: An Essay on the Mutation of Culture
The Barbarians: An Essay on the Mutation of Culture
by Alessandro Baricco
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A stimulating look at what we are becoming...., 22 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is a must read for anyone interested in understanding the mutation that Western European (and by extension North American) culture is undergoing. If you sometimes feel that the things you value most seem to be disappearing, or changing beyond recognition, or if you wonder, while multitasking on your smartphone during a romantic dinner with your girl (or boy) friend why there are people who seem to feel so, The Barbarians can help you think about the reasons. Baricco's tone is light-hearted, the analysis penetrating, and this is definitely not a "reactionary" book. The barbarians are here, it's you and me, so now how are we going to make sense of life and the world? Read this book in conjunction with Robert Carr's The Shallows, which takes a more scientific look at some of the same issues.


The Crisis of Music in Early Modern Europe, 1470--1530
The Crisis of Music in Early Modern Europe, 1470--1530
by Rob C. Wegman
Edition: Paperback
Price: £32.99

3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but where is the music?, 22 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
What this book is all about is described well in the Amazon text above. Although most people who listen to music from this period and later know the general outline of the movement against polyphony, the way Wegman casts it as a crisis (and since polyphony is one of Western Europe's art music's defining characteristics this seems justified), and the way he describes how it originated and built up, including the role of the church, early protestantism, common citizens and luminaries such as Erasmus, is fascinating and provides many new insights. Strangely, though, what this crisis really meant to composers and their music is hardly tackled, which is what most readers would probably be interested in. This study therefore leaves one dissatisfied and wanting more.


Monteverdi
Monteverdi
by Paolo Fabbri
Edition: Paperback
Price: £34.99

2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 22 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Monteverdi (Paperback)
I found this book very disappointing. If you need lengthy extracts from Monteverdi's letters begging for better pay and complaining about his health, lists of all the madrigals with publication dates, and the dry facts of his life... this biography will satisfy you. If you want some insight into the cultural, social and historical context of Monteverdi's life and work, and how this affected his development; how, for instance he contributed to the development of the madrigal and was influenced by, and himself influenced other madrigal composers, or the same for opera; or if you would like to understand the man better in relation to his work.... this is not the place to be. You'll learn more from the booklets that come with CDs.


Russian Fairy Tales (The Pantheon Fairy Tale & Folklore Library)
Russian Fairy Tales (The Pantheon Fairy Tale & Folklore Library)
by A.N. Afanas'ev
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best tales ever, 21 Oct. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This is one of the great treasures on my bookshelves, and has been so for thirty years - one of the few books that accompanies me whenever I have to move to another country. I have read most of these tales many times, and have read them to my kids, my wife and many others. Russian fairy tales are in a class of their own, fantastic, full of the unexpected, and with a strange, lovable and unforgettable set of characters. Before you know it you find yourself in a world familiar but weird, where everything can change from one line to the next without much ado, and that you will find difficult to leave again. These tales are also .... fast. Philip Pullman in the introduction to his Grimm Tales writes, "Swiftness is a great virtue in the fairy tale. A good tale moves with a dreamlike speed from event to event, pausing only to say as much as needed and no more". These tales, in these classical versions presented by Afanesyev, epitomize this.They are as close to the oral tradition as can be, since Afanesyev did little of the editing and merging of different versions the brothers Grimm ended up doing, and there is none of the padding, beautifying and rationalising that "retold" versions suffer from. This is also not Andersen in Russia but the tales you might have heard in the village square or the tavern, or from your nyanya. If you think, like I do, that Calvino's Italian Folk Tales and Pullman's Grimm Tales are great .... Afanesyev is even better.


Wert - La Gerusalemme Liberata - Madrigals (La Venexiana)
Wert - La Gerusalemme Liberata - Madrigals (La Venexiana)
Price: £15.60

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous madrigals, 9 Oct. 2014
I wanted to check whether there was a follow-up to this CD yet, and was amazed to see it had no reviews, while it is worth several that are 5 star! De Wert was Monteverdi's predecessor in Mantua and a major contributor to the development of the "modern" or seconda prattica madrigal, that is, the madrigal that was not polyphonic throughout but gave more priority to the audience actually being able understand the lyrics and expressing in music the feelings the poems expressed in words (put simply :-)). In the works on this CD, from the 7th, 8th and 11th books, this is reflected in rhythmic declamatory passages set off by more traditional polyphonic parts, providing an impressive richness and variety of texture and sound. The excellent booklet notes the influence this had on Monteverdi, whose third and fourth books indeed often sound like de Wert, though a bit more adventurous. The notes also point to the influence of Luzzaschi and the Concerto delle Dame in nearby Ferrara, reflected in the importance of the upper voices and their virtuosity. Maybe La Venexiana could have done more to showcase this with ornamentation and improvisation as they did on their also very good Luzzaschi Concerto delle Dame CD Luzzaschi: Concerto delle Dame Perhaps they assumed the Flemish de Wert would not have been fond of such excesses. Apart from this quibble (and the inclusion of an instrumental version for those who can't endure an hour of singing) Venexiana's performance is even more gorgeous than usual, and this is certainly a CD that should have a place of honour close to Monteverdi on the shelves of anyone who enjoys madrigals, or music that demands to be listened to in general. Let's hope it will be followed by a recording of all the books, as is happening with Marenzio now.


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