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Bacchus (Greater London - Surrey)
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Cavalli: La Calisto - realised by Raymond Leppard
Cavalli: La Calisto - realised by Raymond Leppard

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous realisation of a Baroque rarity, 29 May 2013
When I was a student, I read a book called Opera Before Mozart which stated that more operas were composed before Mozart's time than afterwards. However, you would never get this impression from looking at the standard fayre of most opera companies; Baroque opera remains a relative rarity.

Fernando Cavalli was a Venetian composer who composed 40 operas during the 17th Century [between 1639 and 1666]. La Calisto is the only one of his operas that I have ever heard.

La Calisto is a retelling of the Calisto legend in which Calisto, a water nymph in the service of Diana is seduced by the god Jove [disguised as Diana] and then turned into a bear as punishment by Jove's wife the goddess Juno. She becomes the Great Bear - Ursa Major constellation in the night sky.

This particular performance comes from a Glyndebourne production in the early 1970s having been lovingly reconstructed by Raymond Leppard. It is given a lush performance by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Glyndebourne chorus with amazingly imaginative continuo playing. I would not describe it as 'authentic' but given a performance as exquisite as this, I really don't care.

There is some fantastic singing on this recording. None of the singers would be described as baroque specialists. We have Janet Baker as Diana [and Jove disguised as Diana], very much a tragic heroine [much like Purcell's Dido], Ileana Cotrubas as Calisto [who has recorded many leading opera roles] and Teresa Kubiak [a very fine Tatyana in Solti's recording of Eugene Onegin] as Juno. Along with James Bowman as Endymion, these singers produce some absolutely gorgeous sounds both in solo and ensemble singing. This score was an amazing discovery.

The male singers are not quite so gorgeously sung but they are all very interesting. I like Ugo Trama's singing as Jove; he reminds me a little of Thomas Allen. I enjoyed too the very characterful singing of Hughes Cuenod [very camp and crotchety as Linfea] and Owen Brannigan as Silvano.

Perhaps no-one would perform this work in this way today but as a souvenir of a production and also an example of the revival in interest in Baroque opera in the 1970s, it is very important. It is also contains some very beautiful music beautifully performed and I recommend it very highly.


Money: A Suicide Note
Money: A Suicide Note
by Martin Amis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £6.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly written satire, 26 May 2013
This review is from: Money: A Suicide Note (Paperback)
This is the second Martin Amis book I have read [I have read and reviewed Time's Arrow, which is very different to this] and in both books I have been astonished by his amazing ability with words and his incredible imagination.

Money was not entirely what I expected. It was written during the 1980s, the latter part of which saw the rise of yuppies and a true worship of greed and avarice for money. However, the book was written in 1984 and concerned the experience of a half British half American would be film director trying to make a movie in America in the Summer of 1981. This was a time in which the world's attention was focused on the upcoming wedding of Charles and Diana althogh at the time, I seem to remember that this was a hiatus in a fairly bleak period. The money hungry 'greed is good' mentality had not really kicked in at this stage.

The narrator is John Self, an overweight deeply self indulgent 35 year old advertising director who has made himself a reputation for directing edgy advertisements for drugs, alcohol, junk food, cigarettes and pornography, the very things which obsess him. He is working class and lacking any taste in high culture. John Self seems to spend an awful lot of time indulging in these interests and for many readers, he can come across as a deeply unpleasant character, especially as he has a bit of a violent streak towards women. However, Amis's amazing rhetorical style and the fact that you are inside John Self's head the whole time make you warm to his character.

The account of trying to make the movie is hilarious. He has a producer who seems to encourage Self's big spending style, to destructive consequences and four highly egotistical movie stars. Here we have Martin Amis's genius for creating character names. We have Lorne Guyland, an ageing but incredibly vain leading man [apparently based on Kirk Douglas], a maternally obsessed Italian actress with concerns about her drooping boobs, called Caduta Massi [words which you will see on Italian road, which mean 'Danger - Falling Rocks'] and Butch Beausoleil and Spunk Davies.

There is so much to write about in this book which I can't fit into this review, and I don't want to spoil it but I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of reading this book. I look forward to reading other Martin Amis books.


Mahler;Symphony No.5
Mahler;Symphony No.5
Price: £19.60

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting Technicolor Mahler, 24 May 2013
This review is from: Mahler;Symphony No.5 (Audio CD)
I often get the impression that critics don't really rate Solti's Mahler performances as highly as ones by other conductors. The main exceptions to this are his LSO performance of the first symphony and the Chicago/Vienna performance of the 8th. Critics might be impressed by the technical standards achieved but don't always get the impression that he fully conveys what the music is about (compared say, with conductors like Bernstein, Horenstein, Barbirolli etc).

Looking through Amazon, I realise that this version is the first of three renditions. I can't compare it with these other versions; only with performances of other conductors.

The thing about this performance that hit me between the eyes was the sheer brilliance of the playing by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Every section plays superbly in a recordings that has been wonderfully recorded. Immediately after playing the recording, I just had to listen to it again, having been ravished by the sheer gorgeousness of what I had heard.

As an interpretation, it is big and bold and painted in bright colours. This is not to say that it lacks subtlety, just that I was immediately impressed. Now does this tell the whole story? I don't really know and I am not sure whether it would displace recordings by Barbirolli or Bernstein of this work as the most satisfying. However, it did nothing to offend (I was never saying to myself, "that's not how it should go") and did much to impress.

I cannot imagine anyone being disappointed hearing this recoring.


Mahler: Symphony No.2
Mahler: Symphony No.2
Price: £8.10

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great performance, 21 May 2013
This review is from: Mahler: Symphony No.2 (Audio CD)
This is a well known performance that has received more general acclaim than most Zubin Mehta recordings. I have heard a number of other performances and only recently listened to this one recently.

What can I say? This has been for me the most satisfying recording of this work that I have ever heard.

The orchestral playing from the Vienna Philharmonic is awesome, every section makes a gorgeous sound. The Vienna State Opera Chorus sing beautifully, a lovely unified choral sonority. The vocal soloists, Ileana Cotrubas and Christa Ludwig make lovely sounds - no complaints. The recording quality is also fantastic.

Zubin Mehta makes a great feast from this wonderful box of ingredients. There is a real intensity urging the listener on in this music and the great scale of the music is fully realised. Furthermore, Mehta realises the moments of repose and those tingle moments. He really does tick more of the boxes than any conductor I have ever heard in this piece.

Highly recommended.


Symphony 1
Symphony 1
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £14.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely performance - well recorded, 16 May 2013
This review is from: Symphony 1 (Audio CD)
I remember when this recording first came out. At the time, I thought it fairly superfluous. Mehta had recorded the work for Decca in 1974 with the Israel Philharmonic and then in the early 1980s on CBS/Sony with the New York Philharmonic. Neither performance had received much critical acclaim.

Now a third Mahler 1 again with the Israel Philharmonic but this time on EMI. I was not a particular fan of Zubin Mehta, considering him at this stage of his career to be a bit of a busted flush, so it comes as a great surprise to me to say that this is in fact a very fine performance of Mahler's First Symphony, which ranks among the most enjoyable I have heard.

The unique selling point of this recording is the interpolation of the 'Blumine' movement after the first movement, although it should be said that Seiji Osawa did something similar in his first Boston Symphony Orchestra recording of the work in the 1970s. This movement was only rediscovered in 1966. It is a strange juxtaposition when you are expecting to hear a rambunctious minuet and trio but is a serenely beautiful piece in its own right. However, it is worth checking out the history of the work. Mahler conceived the overall piece as a 5 movement symphonic poem based on ideas from a novel by the German romantic novelist Jean Paul (a Frenchified version of the name Johann Paul Richter) call "Titan." This original version (which I have heard recorded by Wyn Morris) was extensively revised and the programmatic elements were removed, as well as the Blumine movement. This recording is a hybrid of the current version of the four movement symphony with an added Blumine movement.

So what of this particular performance?

I really enjoyed listening to it. The recording quality is stunning, allowing the listener to register loads of orchestral detail and to marvel at Mahler's incredible ear for orchestral sonority. The Israel Philharmonic play wonderfully - no weaknesses in any section.

I really like what Zubin Mehta does with the score. In many ways he is quite a straight interpreter; he downplays the more vulgar elements of the score - something that put some people off hearing it. However, the conducting has tremendous drive and power and there are plenty of interesting touches. It is hard to describe what they are but there were moments in which I really sat up and listened afresh to the music. This is clearly a piece that Zubin Mehta believes in and it was a great experience to hear it.


Mahler: Symphony No. 1
Mahler: Symphony No. 1
Offered by TIP TOP SELLER
Price: £3.98

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely performance - well recorded, 16 May 2013
This review is from: Mahler: Symphony No. 1 (Audio CD)
I remember when this recording first came out. At the time, I thought it fairly superfluous. Mehta had recorded the work for Decca in 1974 with the Israel Philharmonic and then in the early 1980s on CBS/Sony with the New York Philharmonic. Neither performance had received much critical acclaim.

Now a third Mahler 1 again with the Israel Philharmonic but this time on EMI. I was not a particular fan of Zubin Mehta, considering him at this stage of his career to be a bit of a busted flush, so it comes as a great surprise to me to say that this is in fact a very fine performance of Mahler's First Symphony, which ranks among the most enjoyable I have heard.

The unique selling point of this recording is the interpolation of the 'Blumine' movement after the first movement, although it should be said that Seiji Osawa did something similar in his first Boston Symphony Orchestra recording of the work in the 1970s. This movement was only rediscovered in 1966. It is a strange juxtaposition when you are expecting to hear a rambunctious minuet and trio but is a serenely beautiful piece in its own right. However, it is worth checking out the history of the work. Mahler conceived the overall piece as a 5 movement symphonic poem based on ideas from a novel by the German romantic novelist Jean Paul (a Frenchified version of the name Johann Paul Richter) call "Titan." This original version (which I have heard recorded by Wyn Morris) was extensively revised and the programmatic elements were removed, as well as the Blumine movement. This recording is a hybrid of the current version of the four movement symphony with an added Blumine movement.

So what of this particular performance?

I really enjoyed listening to it. The recording quality is stunning, allowing the listener to register loads of orchestral detail and to marvel at Mahler's incredible ear for orchestral sonority. The Israel Philharmonic play wonderfully - no weaknesses in any section.

I really like what Zubin Mehta does with the score. In many ways he is quite a straight interpreter; he downplays the more vulgar elements of the score - something that put some people off hearing it. However, the conducting has tremendous drive and power and there are plenty of interesting touches. It is hard to describe what they are but there were moments in which I really sat up and listened afresh to the music. This is clearly a piece that Zubin Mehta believes in and it was a great experience to hear it.


Mahler:Symphony No.1 Titan(+ Blumine)
Mahler:Symphony No.1 Titan(+ Blumine)

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mahler First - Zubin Mehta, 16 May 2013
I remember when this recording first came out. At the time, I thought it fairly superfluous. Mehta had recorded the work for Decca in 1974 with the Israel Philharmonic and then in the early 1980s on CBS/Sony with the New York Philharmonic. Neither performance had received much critical acclaim.

Now a third Mahler 1 again with the Israel Philharmonic but this time on EMI. I was not a particular fan of Zubin Mehta, considering him at this stage of his career to be a bit of a busted flush, so it comes as a great surprise to me to say that this is in fact a very fine performance of Mahler's First Symphony, which ranks among the most enjoyable I have heard.

The unique selling point of this recording is the interpolation of the 'Blumine' movement after the first movement, although it should be said that Seiji Osawa did something similar in his first Boston Symphony Orchestra recording of the work in the 1970s. This movement was only rediscovered in 1966. It is a strange juxtaposition when you are expecting to hear a rambunctious minuet and trio but is a serenely beautiful piece in its own right. However, it is worth checking out the history of the work. Mahler conceived the overall piece as a 5 movement symphonic poem based on ideas from a novel by the German romantic novelist Jean Paul (a Frenchified version of the name Johann Paul Richter) call "Titan." This original version (which I have heard recorded by Wyn Morris) was extensively revised and the programmatic elements were removed, as well as the Blumine movement. This recording is a hybrid of the current version of the four movement symphony with an added Blumine movement.

So what of this particular performance?

I really enjoyed listening to it. The recording quality is stunning, allowing the listener to register loads of orchestral detail and to marvel at Mahler's incredible ear for orchestral sonority. The Israel Philharmonic play wonderfully - no weaknesses in any section.

I really like what Zubin Mehta does with the score. In many ways he is quite a straight interpreter; he downplays the more vulgar elements of the score - something that put some people off hearing it. However, the conducting has tremendous drive and power and there are plenty of interesting touches. It is hard to describe what they are but there were moments in which I really sat up and listened afresh to the music. This is clearly a piece that Zubin Mehta believes in and it was a great experience to hear it.


Symphony 1
Symphony 1
Price: £14.59

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely performance and recording, 16 May 2013
This review is from: Symphony 1 (Audio CD)
I remember when this recording first came out. At the time, I thought it fairly superfluous. Mehta had recorded the work for Decca in 1974 with the Israel Philharmonic and then in the early 1980s on CBS/Sony with the New York Philharmonic. Neither performance had received much critical acclaim.

Now a third Mahler 1 again with the Israel Philharmonic but this time on EMI. I was not a particular fan of Zubin Mehta, considering him at this stage of his career to be a bit of a busted flush, so it comes as a great surprise to me to say that this is in fact a very fine performance of Mahler's First Symphony, which ranks among the most enjoyable I have heard.

The unique selling point of this recording is the interpolation of the 'Blumine' movement after the first movement, although it should be said that Seiji Osawa did something similar in his first Boston Symphony Orchestra recording of the work in the 1970s. This movement was only rediscovered in 1966. It is a strange juxtaposition when you are expecting to hear a rambunctious minuet and trio but is a serenely beautiful piece in its own right. However, it is worth checking out the history of the work. Mahler conceived the overall piece as a 5 movement symphonic poem based on ideas from a novel by the German romantic novelist Jean Paul (a Frenchified version of the name Johann Paul Richter) call "Titan." This original version (which I have heard recorded by Wyn Morris) was extensively revised and the programmatic elements were removed, as well as the Blumine movement. This recording is a hybrid of the current version of the four movement symphony with an added Blumine movement.

So what of this particular performance?

I really enjoyed listening to it. The recording quality is stunning, allowing the listener to register loads of orchestral detail and to marvel at Mahler's incredible ear for orchestral sonority. The Israel Philharmonic play wonderfully - no weaknesses in any section.

I really like what Zubin Mehta does with the score. In many ways he is quite a straight interpreter; he downplays the more vulgar elements of the score - something that put some people off hearing it. However, the conducting has tremendous drive and power and there are plenty of interesting touches. It is hard to describe what they are but there were moments in which I really sat up and listened afresh to the music. This is clearly a piece that Zubin Mehta believes in and it was a great experience to hear it.


Mahler: Symphony No. 1 in D Major
Mahler: Symphony No. 1 in D Major
Price: £3.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent performance well worth hearing, 16 May 2013
I remember when this recording first came out. At the time, I thought it fairly superfluous. Mehta had recorded the work for Decca in 1974 with the Israel Philharmonic and then in the early 1980s on CBS/Sony with the New York Philharmonic. Neither performance had received much critical acclaim.

Now a third Mahler 1 again with the Israel Philharmonic but this time on EMI. I was not a particular fan of Zubin Mehta, considering him at this stage of his career to be a bit of a busted flush, so it comes as a great surprise to me to say that this is in fact a very fine performance of Mahler's First Symphony, which ranks among the most enjoyable I have heard.

The unique selling point of this recording is the interpolation of the 'Blumine' movement after the first movement, although it should be said that Seiji Osawa did something similar in his first Boston Symphony Orchestra recording of the work in the 1970s. This movement was only rediscovered in 1966. It is a strange juxtaposition when you are expecting to hear a rambunctious minuet and trio but is a serenely beautiful piece in its own right. However, it is worth checking out the history of the work. Mahler conceived the overall piece as a 5 movement symphonic poem based on ideas from a novel by the German romantic novelist Jean Paul (a Frenchified version of the name Johann Paul Richter) call "Titan." This original version (which I have heard recorded by Wyn Morris) was extensively revised and the programmatic elements were removed, as well as the Blumine movement. This recording is a hybrid of the current version of the four movement symphony with an added Blumine movement.

So what of this particular performance?

I really enjoyed listening to it. The recording quality is stunning, allowing the listener to register loads of orchestral detail and to marvel at Mahler's incredible ear for orchestral sonority. The Israel Philharmonic play wonderfully - no weaknesses in any section.

I really like what Zubin Mehta does with the score. In many ways he is quite a straight interpreter; he downplays the more vulgar elements of the score - something that put some people off hearing it. However, the conducting has tremendous drive and power and there are plenty of interesting touches. It is hard to describe what they are but there were moments in which I really sat up and listened afresh to the music. This is clearly a piece that Zubin Mehta believes in and it was a great experience to hear it.


Sängerportrait
Sängerportrait

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous Calling Card, 15 May 2013
This review is from: Sängerportrait (Audio CD)
This CD is a combination of a compilation CD of tenor arias from German operas conducted by Heinz Wallberg and the dungeon aria from Beethoven's Fidelio from the complete set conducted by Kurt Masur.

I think that you are unlikely to hear an album of German operatic arias more beautifully sung than here.

When I was a student (around the time these recordings were issued), I was a huge fan of Seigfried Jerusalem. He had a wonderfully lyric sound and plenty of power that meant that he could essay (at the time) the lighter Wagner heldentenor roles. As a singer, he was a bit of a late starter, having been a professional bassoonist for a number of years. In fact, he came to prominence at an age at which Fritz Wunderlich (the singer he most resembled) died.

I am not sure that his promise was fully realised in the recordings he made of the heavier Wagner roles. However, on its own merits, I still think that listening to this CD is a wonderful experience. There are two Weber arias from Oberon and Der Freischutz, which are brilliant bravura pieces. I have a recording of Nicolai Gedda in this repertoire, and I think that Siegfried Jerusalem is just as good. The Gluck pieces are beautifully sung as are the Wagner extracts (from Rienzi and Parsifal). It was revelatory for me to hear some of the less well known corners of German operatic repertoire. I enjoyed the arias from Tiefland and Der Tote Stadt (naughtily decadent I thought) and the arias by Flotow (in German rather than translated into Italian) and Nicolai.

Siegfried Jerusalem's recording of the aria from Fidelio has received rather lukewarm praise elsewhere in Amazon. For me, it showed an amazing vocal security and lyricism.

I was surprised how much I enjoyed listening to this recording and my admiration for Siegfried Jerusalem was rekindled on listening to it.


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