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Jeffrey Davis "jmd555555" (Sussex UK)

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Paul Ben-Haim: Symphony No. 1 / Fanfare to Israel / Symphonic Metamorphosis
Paul Ben-Haim: Symphony No. 1 / Fanfare to Israel / Symphonic Metamorphosis
Price: 12.26

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and powerful, 8 Sep 2013
I had only come across this composer before in the enjoyable 'Sweet Psalmist of Israel' but his Symphony No 1, in my opinion, is a greater work. Ben Haim, originally called Paul Frankenburger was born in Germany and as a Jew was forced to flee when Hitler came to power. He emigrated to Palestine and is now perhaps considered the most significant Israeli composer. The Symphony is a fine work, containing echoes of Respighi, Bloch and Richard Strauss as well as occasional pre-echoes of Hollywood biblical film scores. Above all, it is memorable and moving and as soon as I first heard it I immediately wanted to play it again. First performed in 1941 it can't fail to reflect the times of its composition in view of the fact that it was written by a Jewish composer who had been forced to flee the land of his birth. There is a strong sense of looming threat and impending catastrophe, which is touchingly juxtaposed against hymn-like assertions of faith, which I find very moving. The cover art is, in my view, incredibly apt - a 1990 painting by Zvi Mainovitzar of a group of Orthodox Jews under a lowering sky. The Symphony, however, ends in triumph. I did not expect too much from the 'Fanfare for Israel' anticipating a predictable ceremonial work, and it certainly starts off that way; however, after a minute a beautiful hymn tune appears, which again I found very moving and which stayed in my mind afterwards. In many ways this would have been more appropriately entitled 'Hymn to Israel'. The 'Symphonic Metamorphoses on a Bach Chorale' is less emotional and provides a fine conclusion to the CD. Super performances by the NDR Radio-Philharmonic of Hannover under their fine conductor Israel Yinon. A fine production all round. Don't hesitate. There is an equally enjoyable Second Symphony available on CD if you like this as much as I have.

Vaughan Williams: Greensleeves; The Lark Ascending (Virtuoso series)
Vaughan Williams: Greensleeves; The Lark Ascending (Virtuoso series)
Price: 4.76

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The 5th Symphony is NOT conducted by Marriner., 26 July 2013
The front cover of this CD is misleading, suggesting that all of the music is conducted by Sir Neville Marriner. This is not however the case. The Lark Ascending, Greensleeves and the Tallis Fantasia are indeed all given fine performances under Marriner, but the major work here, Symphony No 5, is in fact issued, in a performance under Sir Roger Norrington (whose Vaughan Williams symphony recordings, with the exception of No 3, I have found very disappointing). There is a cheap CD of Marriner conducting Symphony No 5 in a much better performance (with Symphony No 6) on a different label. If you want a decent version of Vaughan Williams's masterpiece (in the view of many), Symphony No 5, I'd recommend the versions by Bryden Thompson (Chandos), Richard Hickox (Chandos), Barbirolli (EMI) or Boult (Decca and EMI). If you don't mind a historic recording go for the composer conducting in a fascinating recently unearthed recording (with Dona Nobis Pacem).

Night of the Demon (1957) [DVD]
Night of the Demon (1957) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Dana Andrews
Price: 10.83

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great edition of a super film., 13 July 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
'Night of the Demon' only ranks second to 'Dead of Night' in my opinion as greatest British horror/mystery film of the 40s and 50s. Furthermore 'Night of the Demon' is presented in this edition with much greater care than the grainy transfer currently available of 'Dead of Night' (complete with poor sound). 'Night of the Demon' is given a transfer of great clarity, the sound is good and it includes a number of worthwhile extras including a well-filled glossy booklet. This is therefore a genuine 'special edition' unlike many other similarly designated DVDs.
The film is a classic and I, for one, am glad that 'The Demon' does make a guest appearance (or two) although I know that this is controversial. The two main actors (Andrews/Cummins) are fine but are rather overshadowed by Niall MacGiniss, who wonderfully conveys both a child-like and sinister quality. There is also a wonderful cameo from Reginald Beckwith as 'Mr Meek' the Medium in the séance sequence (Mrs Meek singing 'Cherry Ripe' is perhaps even more disturbing than 'the Demon'!) Athene Sayler (who unlike MacGinniss and Beckwith lived to be very old - over 100) also steals the show - a marvellous actress.
Don't miss this beautifully presented DVD of this fine film - perhaps the last representative of the era before Hammer Films cornered the market, with much less style.

Symphonies Nos. 2-4;Pacific 231 etc./In Terra Pax
Symphonies Nos. 2-4;Pacific 231 etc./In Terra Pax
Price: 19.56

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful music!, 9 April 2013
A lovely set! I am a great admirer of both Ansermet and Honegger and this is currently my favourite Honegger CD (actually a three CD set). I think that Ansermet's performance of Honegger's 4th Symphony 'Delights of Basle' is the best one that I know. As with Barbirolli in the UK there is a warmth and humanity about Ansermet's recordings which I find greatly appealing. I have never found Honegger's 4th Symphony (usually considered the 'lightest' of the five) as moving as I do here - I can't stop playing the CD! The performance of epic 3rd Symphony 'Liturgique'- one of the greatest 20th Century symphonies - is often seen as underpowered (compared with the Karajan version on DGG) and this is its first international CD release. However, as with No 4 there is an underlying humanity about Ansermet's recording which is a more reflective reading than some others. The Karajan is terrific - especially for the beautifully poetic birdsong ending, but Ansermet's provides a valid alternative view. All the other performances are highly recommendable and the last-ditch ' Christmas Cantata' is a deeply moving work and is given a fine performance too. Great to have the original LP sleeves featured at the back of the booklet. Helpful notes and the wonderful bonus of Frank Martin's deeply moving 'In Terra Pax' written to commemorate the end of World War Two(and the companion on my old LP set of Honegger's 'King David') completes a wonderful release on Decca Eloquence.

Evgeny Svetlanov
Evgeny Svetlanov
Price: 12.05

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary in every sense, 18 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Evgeny Svetlanov (Audio CD)
This performance of Shostakovich's epic 10th Symphony under the redoubtable Svetlanov with the USSR SSO was recorded on 21st August 1968 - the day that the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia. The story had been covered in the London evening papers and there was, consequently, considerable angry protest against the invasion from the audience. Ironically the first half of the concert featured Rostropovich performing the Czech composer Dvorak's Cello Concerto (not included on this CD). As a consequence of the Soviet invasion the performance of the Shostakovich commenced against loud and angry shouts of protest from a section of the Prom audience (shouts of 'Go Home!' etc) - there are also shouts from the audience who wanted to end the disruption so that they could hear the music. The result is that the atmosphere is electric. The shouting actually dies down very quickly, but the way in which the doom-laden opening of Shostakovich's 10th Symphony emerges from the turmoil is quite extraordinary. There are those who say that what is special about this recording is the circumstances of the performance, rather than the performance itself. I don't agree and think that it is as deeply felt a performance as I know (and I have many recordings of this work). Probably you wouldn't want this as your only recording of this great symphony (but part of me thinks why not?) Certainly I think that there is an intensity about this performance which makes it stand out amongst many other fine versions (Mitropoulos, Ormandy, Ancerl, amongst others).

Recommended with much enthusiasm as a great historical and musical document.

The Picture of Dorian Gray (Penguin Classics)
The Picture of Dorian Gray (Penguin Classics)
by Oscar Wilde
Edition: Audio CD

5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Audio Book due to John Moffatt's fantastic reading., 20 April 2012
Having owned this on audio cassette I purchased the CD in preference to full cast versions because of the wonderful reading by John Moffatt. Whether as Lord Henry, Basil, Dorian himself or Sibyl Vane John Moffatt's presentaion of the characters in the story is absolutely convincing. The final scene between Dorian Gray and Sibyl is heart-breaking and genuinely tragic.

A wonderful performance by John Moffatt.

Frederic Austin - Symphony in E major, The Sea Venturers, Rhapsody: Spring, Overture: Richard II
Frederic Austin - Symphony in E major, The Sea Venturers, Rhapsody: Spring, Overture: Richard II
Offered by Vocalion/Dutton Epoch Direct (Crazygreen8)
Price: 10.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed this very much, 13 Mar 2012
My favourite work here is the most recent: The Sea Venturers (1934)- Austin's friend Beecham performed it as a tribute to Austin, after the composer died in 1952. It is powerful sea music in the spirit of Bax (another friend of Austin's). It reminded me even more of another fine, largely forgotten composer - Philip Sainton, whose movingly eloquent 'Nadir' was a revelation to me. Austin's fine 'The Sea Venturers' is perhaps even more in the spirit of Sainton's seascape 'The Island'. Above all I found 'The Sea Venturers' to be both memorable and, in the quieter passages, moving. Bernard Herrmann also came to mind! In fact I enjoyed every work on this CD, especially the Symphony from 1913. 'Spring' is the same performance as once appeared on the Classico label - another eloquent work. Austin was rather overshadowed by the better known composers of the English Musical Renaissance, not least by Vaughan Williams who was also born in 1872, but he is a composer, like Sainton or Rootham, deserving of recognition. His warm-hearted music possesses a slumbering power which I find very appealing.

Well worth investigating in my view.

Walton: Film Music
Walton: Film Music
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: 22.95

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best single CD compilation of WW's film music., 19 Feb 2012
This review is from: Walton: Film Music (Audio CD)
If you want a single CD of Waton's film music, in a modern recording, I'd go for this one. The LPO and choir play wonderfully under Carl Davis. Above all, the selection from Henry V (Walton's finest film score) includes 'The Globe' - the wonderfully atmospheric, and in its wartime context, moving introductory sequence. It is usually excluded from the orchestral suites from Henry V and I was delighted to see it included here. Walton's 'Battle in the Air' was the best music featured in 'The Battle of Britain' movie (in fact the only part of Walton's original score included in the film). The other highlight here is the music for 'As You Like It', featuring the wonderfully atmospheric 'Fountain Scene' and 'Waterfall Scene'. Don't miss this - a must for all Walton fans and, indeed, all admirers of film music.

Vaughan Williams: The Nine Symphonies (British Composers)
Vaughan Williams: The Nine Symphonies (British Composers)
Price: 18.17

46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic recordings and excellent value, 7 Dec 2011
If you want an inexpensive boxed set of the Vaughan Williams symphonies you will not go wrong here. This was Boult's second set of recordings of the Vaughan Williams symphonies (the earlier set is on Decca) and although the earlier set had the advantage of VW being in on the recording sessions (apart for No 9 as he died on the morning of the recording session), the EMI set has a warmth and eloquence which is very appealing. Boult, after all, gave the first performances of three of the symphonies (Nos 3,4 and 6) and by the time he recorded this set (1967-71) he had a lifetime's experience of performance. All the performances are outstanding and I'd pick out those of A London Symphony, No 4, 5 and 9 as potentially the finest recorded versions of these works. That of No 6 also appeared in a book featuring the 'Top 1000' classical CDs.
Unlike the poorly presented RCA/Slatkin set, which has also been reissued, the EMI set comes with excellent notes (updated for this reissue) by VW expert Michael Kennededy(the RCA set has none whatsoever). The individual CDs are intelligently coupled with nos 2 and 3 and 5 and 9 sharing a disc. This set represents a wonderfully perceptive and thoughtful traversal of the great landscapes of the Vaughan Williams symphonies.

Don't hesitate!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 22, 2011 12:11 AM GMT

Holst - In the Bleak Midwinter [DVD] [NTSC]
Holst - In the Bleak Midwinter [DVD] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Tony Palmer
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: 12.98

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 24 Oct 2011
Stephen Johnson and Imogen Holst make interesting contributions, but I felt that this film could have been reduced by at least 50%. The musical extracts were much too long, the film appeared to be full of non-sequiturs, with little chronological sequencing. We learn next to nothing about Holst's private life - his wife is hardly mentioned. The Vaughan Williams film was admittedly obsessed with his private life - but we could have done with some kind of balance here. As with the completely inappropriate images which were used to accompany Vaughan Williams's 9th Symphony in the earlier documentary (dying children caught up in war and famine)- the accompanying images here were often equally invalid and oddly misconceived. Musical performances were excellent, however. I guess that as Holst died in the 1930s, unlike his friend Vaughan Williams who lived on until the late 1950s, there is hardly anyone left alive who remembers him. The film did, however, introduce me to two fine works with which I was unfamiliar - the lovely 'love on my heart from heaven fell' (from Seven Partsongs) and the moving Lyric Movement for Viola and Orchestra - from the end of Holst's life (beautifully played by Ruth Gibson). However,even compared to the flawed Vaughan Williams documentary this was a very disappointing film.

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