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Sid Nuncius (London)
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Guitar Genius
Guitar Genius
Offered by FUNTIME MEDIA
Price: 1.73

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic music, decent quality digital transfers, 12 Jun 2014
This review is from: Guitar Genius (Audio CD)
There's no point in writing a great essay about Django here - you'll already be familiar with his music if you're looking at this page, so you'll know that it's an utter joy from first note to last and that he was one of the greatest of jazz and swing musicians whose sound defined a time and place.

What you do need to know is that this CD is a very good sample of his work and in spite of its ridiculously cheap price it is of decent quality. The transfers are well done with no attempt to clean up the sound, leaving the atmospheric hiss and consequent genuine feel to the tracks. Django, Stephane Grapelli and the rest of the Quintet sound just great. This obviously isn't one for the aficionado because there's precious little in the way of information about recording and personnel, but if, like me, you just want a hugely enjoyable sample of the man's genius to put on, smile and tap your feet to, this will do you very well. Warmly recommended - and at this price, what have you got to lose?


Leclair: Five Sonatas
Leclair: Five Sonatas
Offered by The Classical Connoisseur
Price: 9.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent disc, 11 Jun 2014
This review is from: Leclair: Five Sonatas (Audio CD)
This is an excellent disc of five of Leclair's violin sonatas from his Op.5. It's a lovely programme of very rewarding music. I think Leclair's Violin Sonatas deserve to be much better known - they are full of melody, harmonic elegance and genuine emotion and rank with the work of some of his more famous contemporaries. This disc is a first-rate performance of some of the best of them.

Leclair was sometimes called The French Corelli, and Elisabeth Wallfisch here brings out the Corellian aspects of this music wonderfully. She invests it with genuine fire and passion while never losing sight of its French elements of grace and elegance. There is great virtuosity here but it is always put to the service of the music rather than drawing attention to the virtuosity itself. Richard Tunnicliffe and Paul Nicholson are also baroque players of immense distinction who match Wallfisch in every way, and the empathy and understanding between them is palpable. The result is a really glowing sequence of music.

This and its companion disc of Op.9 sonatas Leclair: Sonatas II form a wonderful set. The recorded sound is excellent, the notes are very good and the presentation is attractive. There is another excellent disc of Leclair's Op.9 by Simon Standage and Nicholas Parle Leclair: Violin Sonatas which overlaps this only in Op.9, No.3. Wallfisch is perhaps more sinewy and Italian in her approach, compared to Standage's warmer French elegance and it is fascinating to compare the two. I warmly recommend both, but you can't go wrong with these Convivium discs - they are excellent.


Leclair: Sonatas II
Leclair: Sonatas II
Offered by The Classical Connoisseur
Price: 9.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent disc, 11 Jun 2014
This review is from: Leclair: Sonatas II (Audio CD)
This is an excellent disc of five of Leclair's violin sonatas from his Op.9. It's a lovely programme of very rewarding music. I think Leclair's Violin Sonatas deserve to be much better known - they are full of melody, harmonic elegance and genuine emotion and rank with the work of some of his more famous contemporaries. This disc is a first-rate performance of some of the best of them.

Leclair was sometimes called The French Corelli, and Elisabeth Wallfisch here brings out the Corellian aspects of this music wonderfully. She invests it with genuine fire and passion while never losing sight of its French elements of grace and elegance. There is great virtuosity here but it is always put to the service of the music rather than drawing attention to the virtuosity itself. Richard Tunnicliffe and Paul Nicholson are also baroque players of immense distinction who match Wallfisch in every way, and the empathy and understanding between them is palpable. The result is a really glowing sequence of music.

This and its companion disc of Op.5 sonatas Leclair: Five Sonatas form a wonderful set. The recorded sound is excellent, the notes are very good and the presentation is attractive. There is another excellent disc of Leclair's Op.9 by Simon Standage and Nicholas Parle Leclair: Violin Sonatas which overlaps this only in Op.9, No.3. Wallfisch is perhaps more sinewy and Italian in her approach, compared to Standage's warmer French elegance and it is fascinating to compare the two. I warmly recommend both, but you can't go wrong with these Convivium discs - they are excellent.


Leclair: Violin Sonatas
Leclair: Violin Sonatas
Price: 14.40

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Leclair, 10 Jun 2014
This review is from: Leclair: Violin Sonatas (Audio CD)
This is an excellent disc of French baroque chamber music, chiefly taken from Leclair's Op.9 set of violin sonatas, but leavened with harpsichord sketches by other composers - Couperin and Duphly's portraits of Forqueray, and Forqueray's portrat of Leclair himself. It's a lovely programme of very rewarding music.

Leclair was sometimes called The French Corelli, but Simon Standage here emphasises French grace and elegance rather then Italian fire. There is virtuosity in abundance, but it is unflashy and controlled which I like very much in this music. Standage's long and distinguished career in this period of music has given him a deep understanding of it which informs every movement here and gives it all a real glow, I think. It's a lovely performance from both him and Nicholas Parle which shows Leclair's music at its best, beautifully recorded, as ever, by Chandos.

There is another excellent disc of Leclair's Op.9 by Elisabeth Wallfisch and Convivium Leclair: Sonatas II which overlaps this only in Op.9, No.3. Wallfisch is perhaps more sinewy and Italian in her approach, compared to Standage's warmer French elegance and it is fascinating to compare the two. I warmly recommend both, but you can't go wrong with this disc - it is excellent.


Trouble & Love
Trouble & Love
Price: 19.99

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another excellent album from Mary Gauthier, 10 Jun 2014
This review is from: Trouble & Love (Audio CD)
This is another very fine album from the great Mary Gauthier. It's been four years since The Foundling and she has come up with another intensely personal album of excellent, autobiographical songs - this time telling the story of a relationship break-up, the consequent emotional damage and the beginnings of recovery.

As you'd expect, these are songs of real quality. They are beautifully crafted with straightforward, singable tunes which form great settings for the personal, emotionally powerful lyrics. Gauthier's admirers (like me) will know what to expect and won't be disappointed; she's doing what she does best here and doing it brilliantly. While perhaps not quite as raw as she was in The Foundling, this is nonetheless an album of pain seeking balm and redemption, which she expresses as few others can. How You Learn To Live Alone, for example is a profound and oddly beautiful evocation of the withdrawal from life which can follow intense emotional hurt and is an outstandingly honest and insightful song. That slightly fractured voice, her acoustic guitar and a brilliant group of musicians and singers bring all these songs to life wonderfully. The arrangement and production are pitch-perfect, making everything shine without ever swamping it.

I loved The Foundling even though it wasn't a commercial success. Trouble & Love is a bit more accessible, I think, but it shares a lot of what I loved about The Foundling - thoughtful, sincere and meaningful songs with good tunes and great performances. Here we have just eight songs and a total of about 40 minutes of music. No padding or superfluous material; Mary Gauthier has distilled what she wants to say into this eight-chapter story and it's just brilliant. It has the enduring beauty which comes from being built on noble bones, and I think I will be playing this for many years to come.

There have been excellent albums recently from two other greats of the genre with Eliza Gilkyson's Nocturne Diaries The Nocturne Diaries and Kris Delmhorst's Blood Test Blood Test. If anything, I think this is my favourite of the three, which is really saying something. I recommend this very warmly to anyone who likes an intelligent, listenable song performed by a singer/songwriter who really knows what she's talking about and means what she says. It's truly excellent.


Secret Des Muses, Le (O'dette)
Secret Des Muses, Le (O'dette)
Price: 17.42

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another beauty from Paul O'Dette, 9 Jun 2014
This is a lovely disc of early 17th century lute music. Vallet was born in 1583, making him a younger contemporary of Dowland. He was French by birth but, as a Huguenot, fled to the Netherlands and became a court musician there. Although I don't think his music has quite Dowland's genius, it is very good and extremely appealing.

Paul O'Dette, of course, does this music proud. He is one of the world's greatest lutenists and this disc is well up to standard. His technique is superb, allowing him the freedom to make this music really shine and his deep understanding and scholarship of the music of the period brings out the very best in it. His lute sounds simply lovely and is beautifully recorded by Harmonia Mundi.

If you have any interest whatsoever in lute music or music of the late Renaissance and early baroque, don't hesitate. This is a disc of fine music, beautifully performed and I recommend it very warmly.


The Good Priest: A Father Vincent Ross Mystery (Father Vincent Ross Mystery 1)
The Good Priest: A Father Vincent Ross Mystery (Father Vincent Ross Mystery 1)
by Gillian Galbraith
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but..., 9 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
I thought this was a reasonably readable mystery, but it didn't quite hit the spot for me. It's the story of a priest in a small Scottish town who learns of a crime via the confessional. As apparently unrelated murders begin to seem linked to the crime he has to wrestle with his conscience, and (of course) to put himself in danger in order to solve the mystery. There are Unexpected Twists and, naturally, a Dangerous Face-to-Face Final Encounter With The Killer.

If it all sounds a bit stale and predictable...well, it is a bit. It's not terrible by any means but it doesn't really come to life for me. If you're dealing with now well-worn themes and the hero being Thwarted And Disbelieved At Every Turn you really need something special in the way of character or writing and this hasn't really got it. Gillian Galbraith works hard at developing her characters and giving a vivid sense of place, but I was always aware of her working at it so it never really involved me in either the people or the story and I found much of it dispiritingly predictable.

I'm sorry to be critical. Others have enjoyed this very much so do read their reviews before being put off by mine. There's nothing actually wrong with the book, but it did very little for me and I won't be bothering with Fr. Vincent Ross again, I'm afraid.


RAVPower 14000mAh External Battery Pack Portable Power Bank Charger for iPhone 5 (Lightning Cable not included), 4S, 4, iPad 4, 3, 2, Mini, iPods; Samsung Galaxy S4, S3, S2, Note 2; HTC One, EVO, Thunderbolt, Incredible, Droid DNA; Motorola ATRIX, Droid; Google Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10; LG Optimus [4 mobile phone connectors]
RAVPower 14000mAh External Battery Pack Portable Power Bank Charger for iPhone 5 (Lightning Cable not included), 4S, 4, iPad 4, 3, 2, Mini, iPods; Samsung Galaxy S4, S3, S2, Note 2; HTC One, EVO, Thunderbolt, Incredible, Droid DNA; Motorola ATRIX, Droid; Google Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10; LG Optimus [4 mobile phone connectors]
Offered by Sunvalleytek-UK
Price: 74.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very good power bank, 8 Jun 2014
Length:: 4:52 Mins

This is a review of the 14000mAh version of this power bank which I was sent by the manufacturers for review. I think it is very good. It has a large capacity which is enough to charge most mobile phones at least 5 times or most tablets up to three times - although it depends on your individual device, of course. It's a really useful thing to have if you're going to be away from your normal charging facilities for a while.

This power bank is attractively designed and comes with a decent carrying pouch and a range of plugs for use with different devices. It is fairly compact (12cm x 8cm x 2cm) and weighs about 300g (10oz), which is quite good for a unit of this capacity but it's too heavy for a pocket. It will be fine in a bag or briefcase, though.

It is very simple to use. To charge it up, just plug the micro-USB lead supplied (or any other micro-USB lead) into the USB port of a computer or wall charger and the micro-USB socket on the power bank. It takes quite a while to charge fully: around 8 hours, I think, but I just leave it charging overnight. It has a very elegant display of a strip of 4 LEDs to indicate charge level. Using the power bank to charge your device is just as simple. It has two output ports rated 2.1A and 1.0A which you can use simultaneously if you need to charge two devices at once.

This seems like a very good-quality product. Leakage rate is very low, safety features are properly built-in and it has a good, robust feel. The instruction manual is comprehensive and in adequate English. If you're looking for a large-capacity power bank this will do you very well and I can recommend it warmly.


Brainwavz M5 In Ear Noise Isolating Earphones (Black)
Brainwavz M5 In Ear Noise Isolating Earphones (Black)
Offered by MP4 Nation
Price: 22.50

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing bass (how sweet the sound...), 7 Jun 2014
I think these are very good earphones. They were sent to me by Brainwavz for review and, like others of theirs I have tried, they sound great once they are properly adjusted, and far better than I might expect at this price.

They come with a very nice little carrying case and a good range of silicone tips for a good fit. The build quality is very good; the earphones themselves are made of aluminium onto which you fit the tips which suit you best, and a robust plastic sound-chamber. They have a good silver connecting cable with decent strain relief and the jack is gold-plated. This is plainly a well-made product.

The description says that these ProAlpha earphones are "tuned for bass." They certainly are: the bass response is remarkable although middles are also rich and there is a good, bright treble which is hiss-free even at high volume. I tried these with my Test Playlist which I use for audio products beginning with 15th Century choral music, ending up with The Rolling Stones, Leonard Cohen and London Grammar and going through most things in between. They are fantastic on rock and anything which needs a good bass kick, and Leonard Cohen's deep, creaky voice on Old Ideas sounds phenomenal! Just for fun I turned the low bass up 10 dB on my equalizer to see what would happen and the earphones responded beautifully, with the deep bass on London Grammar's Hey Now absolutely rolling round my skull.

The strong bass does make them a little unbalanced in classical music, with the violins in a string quartet sounding a little too mixed back, for example, so they may not suit everyone, but if you want a real kick in the bass the sound is great.

Correct positioning in the ear is vital with earphones like this. They come with a decent selection of silicone tips and a set of Comply memory foam tips so you will be able to find the ones which suit you best and it's well worth taking the time to get it right. Once I had got the right tips in the right position the sound was excellent and they were very comfortable.

These earphones (like all the Brainwavz headphones I have tried) are a quality product at a very reasonable price, giving excellent sound. They are well made by people who really know and care about sound and if you want a really strong bass response, I can recommend them warmly.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 7, 2014 9:00 AM BST


All the Light We Cannot See
All the Light We Cannot See
by Anthony Doerr
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 11.89

2.0 out of 5 stars Not for me, 6 Jun 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Oh dear. I'm afraid I'm badly out of step with the rave reviews here so far because I didn't like this novel. It's a decent idea and has its moments, but for me the story and characters were constantly swamped by a deluge of self-conscious style. Plenty of people will disagree - and fair enough - but this is my take on it, for what it's worth.

The story is of two very different characters growing up before the Second World War and the impact of the War on them and on others. One is an orphan German boy who turns out to be a genius with radios and is recruited into the German army, the other is a blind girl in Paris who eventually has to flee westward to Saint-Malo. How their stories develop and interact is well explained elsewhere and it's a decent vehicle for a story, but I found that the story and characters often disappeared beneath an avalanche of adjectives and adverbs, and the whole thing was so fast-edited that it seemed like an MTV video at times. Obviously, many people don't agree, and you may well like the style too - these things are a matter of personal taste, after all - but the style the author describes as "lyrical" I found overblown and pretentious, so that it positively detracted from the story rather than enhancing it. It is prose which draws attention to itself rather than to the narrative or the characters, and I felt it was forever glancing coyly in my direction to make sure I'd noticed how frightfully *good* it was. The result was that I found his protracted, over-written descriptions of being caught in an air-raid, for example, far less powerful than the much lower-key but quite brilliant description by Clare Morrall in After The Bombing

I also found the structure very hard to deal with. It has a fractured timescale (a current fad in fiction) and we jump backward or forward in time every 50 pages or so. This can be effective, but I couldn't really see the point here, other than to create little cliff-hangers which began to irritate badly. Then, within each section there are very short chapters which jump between different scenes; until about page 450 I don't think there are two successive sections which actually follow on from each other. Again, rather than being an effective device I just found it mannered, and it became very wearing.

I would like to know what a blind person thinks about this, but I also have to say that, certainly in the first part of the book, in his desire to appear empathetic Doerr gives very high-octane descriptions of what it is like to be blind which seemed far more like his own "oh my God, how would I cope if I went blind?" ideas than the responses of someone for whom it was part of everyday life - brilliantly and matter-of-factly evoked by Marcus Sedgwick in She Is Not Invisible, for example.

I know that lots of people liked this novel and that its Big Themes and Fabulous Style will attract a lot of praise. For me, though, it was overblown, over-long and a good deal too pleased with itself. In the end I didn't think it added up to all that much, I'm afraid, and I can't recommend it.


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