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Sid Nuncius (London)
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Kapsberger: Labirinto damore
Kapsberger: Labirinto damore
Price: £13.82

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely disc, 23 Nov 2014
This is a lovely disc by two very fine musicians. Kapsberger was a great Italian lutenist who was composing and performing at the transition from the more modal Renaissance style to the sort of music we now recognise as Baroque, and elements of both are evident here in his solo lute pieces. These are interspersed on the disc with lute songs by Strozzi, Caccini, Monteverdi, and Merula.

The music is excellent, and really brought to life by the performances here. Thomas Dunford is a terrific lutenist with a superb technique which allows him really to express the emotion and depth of these pieces. It is fascinating to compare his approach to that of Paul O'Dette Kapsberger - Lute Works: Dunford takes a fairly rhythmically free approach, giving the pieces a more improvisatory, Renaissance feel to me, while O'Dette has more of a solid Baroque pulse to his playing. Both work extremely well - I have loved the O'Dette disc for years and this is a terrific new take which I am coming to love equally.

The songs are also lovely; Anna Reinhold's beautiful mezzo suits them perfectly and she sings with great style and engagement with the texts. As a programme it works very well indeed.

Alpha make their usual beautiful job of both recording and presentation and this is a very fine disc all round, I think. If you have any interest at all in the music of this period, don't hesitate - this is a real cracker.


Elegant Mens 12 Pairs Cotton Argyle Socks
Elegant Mens 12 Pairs Cotton Argyle Socks
Offered by Elegant Socks & Underwear
Price: £14.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Very good socks, 21 Nov 2014
The manufacturer sent me these socks for review and I am impressed, certainly at this price. They are comfortable and seem well made.

Each pack contains 12 pairs of the same basic design, with three pairs each of four different colours categorised as light grey, dark grey, navy and black. It's a reasonable description, and you get an idea of the colours from the images on this page. The socks are fairly lightweight but not thin, and compare well with other everyday socks. They look good and feel very nice: they certainly don't feel like cheap socks and the high cotton content makes them comfy and absorbent. They stay up well but don't constrict my calves at all and fit well on my Size 11 feet.

There's not a huge amount more to say about socks. In summary, these seem like very decent quality socks at an excellent price and I can recommend them.


Masters from Flanders: Polyphony from the 15th & 16th century Vol. IX
Masters from Flanders: Polyphony from the 15th & 16th century Vol. IX
Price: £4.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good, but some intrusive instrumentation, 21 Nov 2014
This set of 10 CDs contains a wealth of wonderful music from 15th- and 16th-Century Flanders, which means that there are works by many of the greatest composers of the era including Josquin, Isaac, de la Rue, Ockeghem and many more. The series was recorded over several years beginning in the early 90s - a time when the music of many of these composers was scarcely available, so Erik van Nevel deserves enormous credit for his pioneering work. Since then, however, there have been some stunning recordings of many of these composers by ensembles like The Tallis Scholars, Magnificat, Cinquecento and The Brabant Ensemble, and by comparison I have to say that I now view this collection with rather more respect than affection.

Van Nevel's approach is brisk and almost always accompanied by contemporary instruments. There is a historical case to be made for this, of course, but it's not the only authentic approach and I find myself yearning for some unaccompanied polyphony to allow the sheer beauty of it to shine through. In places, too, the instrumentation is plain obtrusive. For example, Josquin's wonderful motet O virgo prudentissima has the crucial word "audi" sung in isolation by the basses and then repeated a fifth lower. The effect is stunning, riveting the attention on the spare sound and the meaning among the complex polyphony around it. Here, though, van Nevel insists on having a couple of chaumes (I think) playing twiddles around it, and this really interferes with the music and the composer's intention, in my view.

Partly this is a matter of taste, of course. You may like this sound much more than I do, and it works very well in the chansons and dances. However, for me this and an often rather muddy and indistinct sound from the choir make this a set I refer to rather than play for pure pleasure like many of my other polyphony recordings.

(Fortunately, all these discs are now available as mp3 downloads and I strongly recommend that you sample them to see whether you share my taste - after all, you may love them.)


Centra 25mm 2 Round Rings A4 Ring Binder - Black
Centra 25mm 2 Round Rings A4 Ring Binder - Black
Price: £2.30

4.0 out of 5 stars A good basic ring-binder, 21 Nov 2014
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a perfectly decent, serviceable black A4 ring binder. It has a rigid cover with a textured finish and seems robust and well made. The rings are on the back rather than the spine which I prefer because it means that the pages don’t wear out moving around the rings every time you open it.

There is no label-holder on the spine, which is a shame, but sticking a label on is easy enough. Apart from that, it's fine and if you want a decent, basic ring-binder this will do very well.


[ THE DISTANCE ] By Giltrow, Helen ( AUTHOR ) Mar-2013[ Paperback ]
[ THE DISTANCE ] By Giltrow, Helen ( AUTHOR ) Mar-2013[ Paperback ]
by Helen Giltrow
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A good, exciting thriller, 20 Nov 2014
I thought this was a good, involving and at times very exciting thriller. It is certainly a very promising debut.

The plot summary sounds pretty dreadful to be honest - a shady "operative" asked to place a hit man inside an implausible-sounding prison facility to kill someone who isn't registered there, with all sorts of personal complications. I wouldn't have bothered but it was recommended to me by a friend whose judgement I trust and I'm glad it was. Some suspension of disbelief is required, but it is well written and structured, and the complex, multi-layered plot develops very nicely. I also found the characters thoroughly believable, which is by no means always the case with this sort of book.

The book is rather too long for its own good and a little tightening would have helped, but certainly not enough to spoil anything badly. Also, do be warned that there is a good deal of pretty graphic violence in it. It is certainly not gratuitous and is unflinchingly horrifying in places so it's anything but titillating, but if you're not keen on graphic violence this may not be for you.

I found this book a good, exciting read overall and I am looking forward to reading the next one in the series - always a good sign. Recommended.


August EP636 - Bluetooth Wireless Stereo NFC Headphones - Comfortable On-ear Headset with built-in Microphone and Rechargeable Battery - Compatible with Mobile Phones, iPhone, iPad, Laptops, Tablets, Smartphones - Red
August EP636 - Bluetooth Wireless Stereo NFC Headphones - Comfortable On-ear Headset with built-in Microphone and Rechargeable Battery - Compatible with Mobile Phones, iPhone, iPad, Laptops, Tablets, Smartphones - Red
Offered by Daffodil UK
Price: £32.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent budget headphones, 19 Nov 2014
The manufacturer sent me these Bluetooth headphones for review, and I am very impressed. For their size and price they deliver extremely good sound, look great and work very well.

For such light and compact headphones, the sound quality is excellent. They have an exceptionally firm bass, with decent middles and clear, hiss-free treble. They go plenty loud enough for my listening with no audible distortion. Among other things, I have put them through my Test Playlist, starting with some Tudor polyphony from about 1520 and ending up with London Grammar and taking in most things in between. They are particularly good on rock and pop but do pretty well on everything, I think. That deep, rolling sub-bass on London Grammar's Hey Now sounds great, and guitar and vocals come out well too. Bass instruments like viola da gamba and cello sound good although orchestral instruments don't have the really distinct articulation you get in high-end 'phones, and they aren't real hi-fi, but for compact 'phones at this price they perform excellently.

They look very nice indeed and are also good and comfortable. They are on-ear, with soft padding and I've worn them for a couple of hours with no problem. They grip firmly enough to stand up to reasonable levels of movement (they'd be fine for running, for example) but not hard enough to cause any discomfort. Sound leakage is pretty minimal, although when played loud they are audible to others. The earcups swivel enough to allow you to position the headband where it is most comfortable, which is a welcome feature.

Functionally, they work very well. They are Bluetooth only, so there's no jack socket, but I found pairing simple and solid with a good range – 6 or 7 metres easily. The controls are easy and effective, with volume, skip and call controls all on the right earcup, and battery life seems very good. They are decently packaged and come with a standard micro-USB lead for charging and a good clear manual.

So, overall these are excellent headphones in this price and size range. If you want a light, smart set of Bluetooth phones with very good quality sound, these will do you very nicely.


Panasonic Specialist Lithium Coin Batteries CR2032 x 12
Panasonic Specialist Lithium Coin Batteries CR2032 x 12
Offered by Babz Media
Price: £2.80

5.0 out of 5 stars Genuine Panasonic batteries at a bargain price, 17 Nov 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
There's not much to say about these batteries except to confirm that they are genuine Panasonic batteries with a very good date - mine last until 2024. They are an amazing bargain at this price, and you can buy with confidence.


Ockeghem - Missa de Plus en Plus by Orlando Consort (2010) Audio CD
Ockeghem - Missa de Plus en Plus by Orlando Consort (2010) Audio CD
Offered by M&E Store-USA
Price: £12.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superb recording, 17 Nov 2014
This is a very welcome re-release of this excellent recording originally from 1997. The music is fabulous and the performance by The Orlando Consort is of their usual superlative standard.

Ockeghem was the towering figure in music in the mid-to-late 15th Century. He was not a prolific composer but wrote music of exceptional beauty and quite astonishing technical brilliance. He was revered by composers of the next generation like Josquin and it is easy to see why on the evidence here. The mass setting based on the chanson De plus en plus is beautiful and deeply spiritual and the secular chansons have genuine spirit and real charm in places. (My only complaint about the disc is that they haven't included the chanson on which the mass is based, which is a regrettable omission in my view.)

The Orlando Consort sing it all superbly. Their four male voices give the music the spare beauty it needs to really glow, and they are all true virtuoso singers so the technical demands present little problem. They have a lovely fluency of line and an excellent balance of voices so both the overall beauty of the music and its magnificent internal structures come over perfectly. It is excellently recorded in a resonant but not over-boomy acoustic.

I have two other very fine performances of this mass by The Tallis Scholars and The Clerk's Group but this is my favourite overall. I think the all-male ensemble and one-voice-to-a-part forces give it exactly the right feel. You really can't go wrong here - it's a superb recording and very warmly recommended.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 20, 2014 7:23 PM GMT


Avonmore
Avonmore
Price: £8.99

28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff from the old smoothie, 17 Nov 2014
This review is from: Avonmore (Audio CD)
I am rather surprised to find that I really like this album. I wasn't expecting all that much, but I thought it was good on first hearing and it has grown even better with a lot of listens since. Ferry is still great singer and this is a star-studded album, with a well-publicised array of terrific guest musicians and singers and a fine producer (along with Ferry himself) in Rhett Davies. The result is a bit of class, I think.

The style and feel remind me rather of the Roxy Music albums Flesh And Blood and Avalon. 35 years on, the sound is richer and the production more modern, but there are still the beautiful vocals from Ferry and great harmonies, a fine selection of singable songs, enough harmonic originality to keep you interested, a compellingly danceable beat even in the slower numbers, and that familiar, distinctive air of yearning, melancholy and occasional real beauty pervades the whole album.

The material is very good. The eight songs written by Ferry are well up to standard musically, and they are lyrically pretty good, too. There are weaknesses: starting a song with the line "Midnight train rolling down the track" is bordering on criminally lazy, even though it's a good song musically, and I'll bet you can guess what the rhyme is, too. However, most of it is much better than that; Driving Me Wild, for example, contains lines like
"I'm dealing with a feeling
That nobody knows
With the kindness of ravens,
The murder of crows"
which I find very arresting even if it might well be pretty meaningless.

The album closes with two covers, both of which I was dreading for different reasons: Sondheim's Send In The Clowns just because it's Send In The <expletive deleted> Clowns again, and Robert Palmer's Johnny And Mary because I think it is one of the very greatest songs of the 80s and I didn't want to see it messed with. In fact, both are excellent. Ferry takes a few more liberties with the melodies than I'd like, but overall they are fine, sincere and meaningful new takes on both songs - exactly what makes a good cover version, I think.

Sorry to go on, but I was genuinely expecting this just to be OK at best. In fact, I think it's really good and I thought it was worth trying to explain why. In a nutshell, it's good material, excellently performed, arranged and produced. If in doubt, I'd suggest you listen to a few samples. If you like the sound of them, don't hesitate - this is a fine album which I recommend very warmly.
Comment Comments (5) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 22, 2014 12:36 PM GMT


Anyway The Wind Blows: The Anthology by Cale, J.J. (1997) Audio CD
Anyway The Wind Blows: The Anthology by Cale, J.J. (1997) Audio CD
Offered by M&E Store-USA
Price: £16.37

5.0 out of 5 stars The great man's greatest, 16 Nov 2014
This is a wonderful album. I have loved JJ Cale since I first came across him in the mid-70s. I still have his first 8 albums on vinyl and was looking for something to play in the car. This is nearly perfect as a compilation album, with almost all my favourites (no River Runs Deep, Gypsy Man or Katy Cool Lady, though) and not a duff track among them. Almost all the greats are there - and they really are great.

You can't possibly go wrong with this double CD. If you already know and like JJ Cale then it's bound to have 50 songs you like (and many which you love), and if you don't you've nothing to lose. An absurdly low price and you'd have to be made of stone not to be seduced by Crazy Mama and After Midnight. It's worth it for these two alone, and there are another 48, many of which are just as good.

Recommended in the strongest possible terms. Risk a few quid - you won't regret it.


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