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Sid Nuncius (London)
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RaveTouch Wireless Bluetooth Headphone with Touch Control Rich Bass NFC Pairing Mic Hands Free calling (White) Color: White
RaveTouch Wireless Bluetooth Headphone with Touch Control Rich Bass NFC Pairing Mic Hands Free calling (White) Color: White

5.0 out of 5 stars Very good headphones, 29 Sep 2014
These headphones are currently available for under forty pounds: Whitelabel RaveTouch Over-Ear Bluetooth Headphone with Touch Control Rich Bass NFC Pairing Mic Hands Free calling (Whitle). The following is my review of them at that price:

The manufacturers sent me a pair of these headphones to test and review. I am very impressed, especially at this price. Three things really matter to me in headphones of this kind: sound quality, ease of use and comfort. They do very well on all three, and they look very stylish, too.

Sound quality first, because that's the most important to me. For headphones under forty quid the sound is excellent. I have given them a thorough workout with everything from 16th Century choral music, via chamber and orchestral music to The Who, Adele and London Grammar. They perform very well on all of them with a bright hiss-free treble, rich middle and a good, solid bass. Perhaps a viola da gamba or cello lack their full, resonant depth if you listen carefully, but the bass in rock music is good and the sound seems well balanced to me.

In use they are great. Bluetooth pairing was simple and the range is good - I got about 7-8 metres without problems. There is a jack socket (with lead supplied) so you can connect to non-Bluetooth devices with headphones output, too. They have conventional button controls which are fine, and a touchpad on the left headphone which allows you to control volume, pause and skipping between tracks with the swish of a finger over the surface. It's really good and very simple (after a couple of minutes practice, I must admit) and a great feature of these headphones. They have a built-in microphone and the normal Bluetooth functions for receiving calls. The battery life is very good and recharges via a standard micro-USB cable (supplied with the headphones).

These are on-ear rather than over-ear phones, and if you get on OK with that type of design you will find them very comfortable. The padding is very good and even though I'm not a great fan of the on-ear design, I found they stayed in place and remained comfortable for a good long time.

I like the pale-grey-and-white styling of these phones very much and think they look very good. Time alone will tell, of course, but they have a solid and durable feel about them. One slight annoyance is that the supplied jack and USB cables are thick and black - white or pale grey would be much more stylish. Also, the instruction manual is in pretty poor English. It's comprehensible but especially for a California-based company, it doesn't give a good impression at all.

Minor niggles aside, these are very good headphones - and excellent value. If you want very reasonably priced headphones which sound good, work well and look very stylish I can recommend these.


Mozart: Piano Quartets Import Edition by Leopold String Trio, Paul Lewis (2010) Audio CD
Mozart: Piano Quartets Import Edition by Leopold String Trio, Paul Lewis (2010) Audio CD
Offered by M&E Books-USA
Price: £16.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply fantastic, 29 Sep 2014
This is a fantastic disc, I think. It is chamber music playing at its finest in two masterpieces of the repertoire, and was chosen by Hyperion as one of its "Thirty Seminal Recordings" to mark the label's 30th birthday. It fully deserves the accolade.

Mozart's two piano quartets are fabulous works. They are intricate and complex in places and also have a delightful joy and beauty about them. I think they are among Mozart's finest works, and this is the recording which finally opened them up fully for me.

Paul Lewis and the Leopold String Trio are now players of true international standing and even in 2003 when this was recorded they had established themselves in the front rank of chamber playing. They all have that effortless virtuosity which allows the music to shine rather than focusing attention on the skill of the player and there is a fine understanding between them. The whole thing has a wonderful balance and poise, and also a lovely grace and elegance about it so that you are drawn into Mozart's magnificent music and carried along with it. I absolutely love it: it is four superb musicians putting themselves wholly at the service of the music and relishing both it and the experience of playing together.

I don't mean to gush, but I truly think that this is an exceptional recording. Hyperion's recorded sound is up to their normal excellent standard (Kate Gould's cello sounds wonderful!) and the notes are interesting and well-written. Don't hesitate - this is a fantastic disc and very warmly recommended.


Terms & Conditions by Glancy, Robert (2014) Hardcover
Terms & Conditions by Glancy, Robert (2014) Hardcover
by Robert Glancy
Edition: Hardcover

4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, witty and enjoyable, 29 Sep 2014
In the end I enjoyed this book very much. I had my reservations about it, particularly at the start, but overall I found it witty, insightful and memorable.

The book is narrated by Frank who is initially recovering from a major car crash and can remember nothing about his life. It turns out that he is a corporate lawyer who writes the fine print (Terms and Conditions) in contracts, and as he recovers he finds himself re-evaluating his life. So far, so conventional, and for the first 50 pages or more I struggled a bit because I found it little more than a faintly amusing polemic against things like modern corporate-speak and the self-obsession, vacuity and insincerity of much of corporate life (and a good deal of life outside corporations). As the book progressed, though, I became much more involved. As the reality of Frank's life becomes clearer his response to it becomes much more humane and profound, and the book has important things to say about corporate and individual responsibility as well as human relationships. The characters are slightly exaggerated for effect but still convincing, and I found Frank's emerging yearning for real human contact genuinely touching in a world which substitutes of profiling and "people skills" for the genuine, sincere, flawed and delightful relationships between us. It's not a particularly original theme, but it is very well done.

One small difficulty I had while reading was that the whole thing has such an American feel to it that it brought me up short every time there was an explicit reference to it being set in London with English characters. This may not be a problem for many readers, but it did keep throwing me out of the story slightly.

Minor reservations aside, though, I can recommend this as a thoughtful, readable and enjoyable book.


Il Cor Tristo - Roger Marsh, Bernardo Pisano & Jacques Arcadelt by The Hilliard Ensemble (2013) Audio CD
Il Cor Tristo - Roger Marsh, Bernardo Pisano & Jacques Arcadelt by The Hilliard Ensemble (2013) Audio CD
Offered by M&E Books-USA
Price: £17.30

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another fine Hilliard disc, 29 Sep 2014
This is yet another adventurous and haunting disc from the Hilliard Ensemble. Here they sing Roger Marsh's Il Cor Tristo, a contemporary setting of cantos from Dante's Inferno, among early 16th Century madrigals by Arcadelt and Pisano. It sounds pretty challenging but although it's not always an easy and relaxing listen, it is actually a very rewarding and enjoyable programme. The Arcadelt and Pisano pieces frame the Marsh beautifully and Marsh's work itself is dramatic and fascinating - and rather beautiful in places. I'm often not that keen on contemporary music, but I like this very much: it is undeniably 21st Century in character but is harmonically especially gripping, I find, with real drama and storytelling which keeps me thoroughly involved.

The Hilliards are thoroughly at home here. They bring their intense, haunting sound to both ancient and modern and it is very effective in both. They are technically superb and engage wonderfully with the music and text, completely involving the listener (well, this listener, anyway) in what they are singing. The acoustic is perfect: resonant without being over-boomy, and it makes the performances glow.

Even if you're not a big fan of contemporary music, I would recommend giving this a try. Like me, you might be surprised at how very much you like it. It's a fine recording which I recommend very warmly.


Neck And Neck by Atkins, Chet, Knopfler, Mark (1993) Audio CD
Neck And Neck by Atkins, Chet, Knopfler, Mark (1993) Audio CD
Offered by M&E Books-USA
Price: £13.78

5.0 out of 5 stars Ooh yeah, the boys can play, 29 Sep 2014
This is an excellent album. Two real guitar virtuosi in Chet Atkins and Mark Knopfler produce an immensely enjoyable disc, clearly relishing each other's company. It is country-tinged, full of fantastic guitar picking from both and manages to have real musical quality while being thoroughly good-natured.

If you like slightly country-flavoured music, fantastic guitar picking or just an enjoyable album of good songs performed by two real geniuses of the guitar, this is for you. Personally, I love it and, twenty years after its release, it still gives me huge pleasure, raises a smile and causes my toes to tap involuntarily. Very warmly recommended.


Muffat, G.: Componimenti Musicali Per Il Cembalo
Muffat, G.: Componimenti Musicali Per Il Cembalo
Price: £14.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 29 Sep 2014
This is an excellent double CD of some very fine and engaging harpsichord music, played beautifully by Mitzi Meyerson. Gottlieb Muffat, the son of Georg Muffat, was born in 1690 (making him roughly contemporary with Bach) and he worked chiefly in Vienna for much of the 18th Century until his death in 1770. He was a highly skilled musician and these works are of the highest quality, full of invention melody and expressive writing. Both this collection and Gottlieb Muffat himself were completely new to me and I am very glad that I took a chance on it.

Mitzi Meyerson, continuing her mission to unearth obscure harpsichord music, plays it all beautifully. Her technique is rock-solid, her judgement of ornamentation and rubato is perfect to my ear and she brings out the really delightful nature and variety of this music. The recorded sound is excellent and the harpsichord sounds simply lovely throughout (showing yet again that Beecham's famous remark about skeletons on a tin roof may be funny but is hopelessly wrong).

Glossa have produced their usual lavish and beautiful packaging for this set. The notes are in the form of a transcript of an interview with Mitzi Meyerson which I found rather twee in tone, although much of the content is very interesting and I certainly wouldn't carp about it. This is an all-round cracker of a set - I am extremely glad that I came across it and recommend it very warmly.


The House of Dolls
The House of Dolls
by David Hewson
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars A very good crime novel, 27 Sep 2014
This review is from: The House of Dolls (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book. I tried it because David Hewson was entrusted with writing the novels of the three TV series of The Killing and, while this wasn't as good as those excellent series, it turned out to be a well written and engaging police thriller.

In many ways this seems like a Killing clone to begin with: a missing teenager; a troubled ex-detective reluctantly drawn back into police work; political shennanigins in a fragile coalition and so on. It is also, to be honest, fairly well laced with clichés of the genre: the troubled ex-policeman brought back...etc (who also has a tragic personal involvement); the awkward, misfit partner; an arrogant colleague; political pressure on the investigation; a boss who wants the case closed but the detective Still Has Doubts...and so on. There is even a Stand-Off With A Killer climax. However, David Hewson writes very well and a handles all of this with real skill, so that it never felt tired or stale to me. I thought the characters very well-drawn, the story was involving and he generates a good sense of place in Amsterdam.

The book even has a quiet brilliance about it in places, I thought. For example, there is a little scene, just three pages long in which Bakker (the awkward new recruit) and Koeman (a minor character among the detectives) are talking in the canteen which seemed an utterly genuine exchange between two real people and which I found rather touching. Quite a lot of this underlies the book and lifts it well above the ordinary, I think.

This isn't fabuously original or any kind of literary masterpiece, but it's well plotted with a gripping story and has convincing characters and a good sense of place. I became very involved and will certainly look out for more books featuring Vos and Bakker. Recommended to anyone who likes a good crime novel.


Mozart: Martin Frost [Martin Fr?st, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen] [BIS: BIS1893] by Martin Fr?st, Antoine Tamestit, Leif Ove Andsnes, Janine Jansen, Deutsche Kammer (2013) Audio CD
Mozart: Martin Frost [Martin Fr?st, Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen] [BIS: BIS1893] by Martin Fr?st, Antoine Tamestit, Leif Ove Andsnes, Janine Jansen, Deutsche Kammer (2013) Audio CD
Offered by M&E Books-USA
Price: £22.01

4.0 out of 5 stars A lovely sound, but..., 27 Sep 2014
This is Martin Fröst's second recording of the Mozart Clarinet Concerto, following his disc made with the Amsterdam Sinfonietta Mozart: Clarinet Concerto / Clarinet Quintet in A major. I feel rather the same about this disc as I did about the last one: it is in many ways a good recording but it doesn't quite hit the spot for me.

Martin Fröst is a brilliant clarinettist. His technique is superb and he plays with a remarkable fluency and apparent complete ease. This ought to allow him to really get inside the music and give it real emotion and inner meaning, and it is here that I think he doesn't quite succeed. In spite of all the beauty of sound, the whole thing doesn't quite hang together. Especially in the Kegelstatt Trio, the extremes of phrasing and (to me) excessive rubato in places sound to me as though he is making rather studied,insincere gestures to try to make the music distinctively his own, rather than genuinely investing it with feeling, so the whole thing lacks much real cohesion.

This is a great shame, I think, because Fröst is such a fine musician and I think his recordings of the Brahms Clarinet Sonatas are wonderful. This disc may be more to your taste than it is to mine, but I will be sticking to the magnificent Thea King version of the Concerto Mozart: Basset Clarinet Concerto/Quintet and hoping that Fröst can bring some of the magic to future recordings that he did to the Brahms. I don't like to be critical, and others may like this more than me. Certainly the sound is lovely and, as always, beautifully recorded by BIS, but I'm afraid I can only give this a rather qualified recommendation.


Campanula Pinot Grigio - 12 bottles
Campanula Pinot Grigio - 12 bottles
Offered by Laithwaites Wine
Price: £93.48

4.0 out of 5 stars A very decent Pinot Grigio, 27 Sep 2014
This is a very decent Pinot Grigio, and excellent value at this price. It's Hungarian, which some people may find off-putting, but it tastes like a crisp northern Italian Pinot Grigio to me. It's not fine wine, and doesn't pretend to be, but it's a very refreshing drop, decently made with the crispness and green fruit flavours you'd expect.

As an aperitif or with seafood, salmon and the like I find this very enjoyable. I've had a good number of bottles over the years since Laithwaites introduced this, and it's always been very reliable. Recommended as a very acceptable everyday wine.


Campanula White Wine Pinot Grigio 2013 75cl (Case of 6)
Campanula White Wine Pinot Grigio 2013 75cl (Case of 6)
Offered by Laithwaites Wine
Price: £46.74

4.0 out of 5 stars A very decent Pinot Grigio, 27 Sep 2014
This is a very decent Pinot Grigio, and excellent value at this price. It's Hungarian, which some people may find off-putting, but it tastes like a crisp northern Italian Pinot Grigio to me. It's not fine wine, and doesn't pretend to be, but it's a very refreshing drop, decently made with the crispness and green fruit flavours you'd expect.

As an aperitif or with seafood, salmon and the like I find this very enjoyable. I've had a good number of bottles over the years since Laithwaites introduced this, and it's always been very reliable. Recommended as a very acceptable everyday wine.


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