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Reviews Written by
Jeffrey Davis "jmd555555" (Sussex UK)
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Weinberg: Symphony No. 3
Weinberg: Symphony No. 3
Price: £16.87

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One of Weinberg's best symphonies, 2 Aug. 2011
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Weinberg's 3rd Symphony, written in the aftermath of the Zhdanov denunciation of leading soviet composers (including Weinberg himself)is a very endearing, approachable work. As with Miaskovsky in his underrated 26th Symphony, Weinberg responds to the demands of the Socialist Realist state without compromising his integrity - the result is a work of considerable poignancy and eloquence. Of the symphonies I know I would place this together with the 5th (Weinberg's greatest symphony), the 6th and the 1st Symphony as my favourites. The 3rd Symphony has some folk song influence (like Miaskovsky's 23rd Symphony) and is lyrical and tuneful throughout. The CD runs for under 50 minutes which is poor value for a full-price CD these days, but there are very helpful booklet notes and a great photo of the composer (smiling for once)and his dog at a composer's retreat in 1968.

Well worth invesigating - I have played this CD often with much enjoyment.


Julian Alps of Slovenia: Mountain Routes and Short Treks: Walking Routes and Short Treks (Cicerone Mountain Walking)
Julian Alps of Slovenia: Mountain Routes and Short Treks: Walking Routes and Short Treks (Cicerone Mountain Walking)
by Justi Carey
Edition: Vinyl Bound

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Indespensable but not always accurate, 2 Aug. 2011
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The bottom line is that this an excellent book, without which our two holidays in Kranjska Gora (2010) and Bohinj (July 2011) would not have been nearly so enjoyable. The book is very well researched with a very helpful introduction and detailed walks of various levels based at five centres in Slovenia plus a section on Hut-to-Hut routes and a detailed list of useful contact details. Whilst recommending this book enthusiasically to anyone considering a hiking holiday in Slovenia I would just make a few points.

The book appears to have been written by two very keen and experienced mountaineers (one can surmise this by their beaming expressions, in the photo of the two of them against a rock face at the start of the book!) I would, on occasion, agree with one of the earlier reviewers who suggested that their assessment of the level of difficulty of some of the walks could be slightly misleading. As an example for route 28 'Prsivec' (Bohinj) the authors comment that 'The route climbs steeply through the woods, but the height gain is a pleasure because of the laid stones of the old cart track that still survive in many places' - well, the height gain may have been a pleasure for Justi and Roy, but it was certainly not for me - in fact it was an absolute slog, which seemed to go on forever! Having said that I should point out that I am in my mid 50s, but am generally fit, go to the gym and usually go walking on the South Downs every weekend as well as having walked the Pennine Way (admittedly many years ago). The other point is that, inevitably, some routes and signs may have changed. On the same walk (28) the guide says 'The path continues up and past the hut, [this refreshment hut was indeed most welcome after the slog uphill!] and then levels out at another planina with wooden buildings signed 'Prsivec 2hrs30'to the left.' Well, there was indeed a sign at the designated spot but it definitely did not say Prsivec, as a result of which we went the wrong way and lost an hour (in a 7-8 hour walk), so that we never made it to the top (although this had more to do with my wife getting blisters). Prsivec was indeed signed but not until after you had already turned off onto a track signed to a different location.

In Kranjska Gora the previous year, I noted that for Route 1 (Zelenci) the signposts, which according to the book, featured place names, had been replaced by numbered routes, which meant nothing to us at the time - but this was not a big problem.

If you are in Kranjska Gora, I would strongly recommended doing Route 3 (Srednji Vrh) - a fantastic walk in all respects - after a bit of a slog up through a forest (well, for me anyway) the route levels out and from the terrace section you get the most marvellous view of the Julian Alps, and I loved hearing the cow bells. Other walks we really enjoyed were the nice 4 hour walk round Lake Bohinj and the ascent of Rudnica - none of these we'd have done without the book. The walks are helpfully graded in 4 levels of difficulty.

Notwithstanding the caveats made above I would recommend this book enthusiastically - an essential purchase for anyone wanting to walk or climb in Slovenia.

I shall look forward to their next publication 'Gentle strolls in Antarctica'!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 20, 2011 3:31 PM BST


Ince: Symphony No. 2/ Concerto For Orchestra
Ince: Symphony No. 2/ Concerto For Orchestra
Price: £7.40

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth investigating, 15 July 2011
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This is quite extraordinary music. Ince (born 1960) is a Turkish composer who has lived in America since 1980. These two influences (Turkish/American) can be heard in his dynamic music. As has been suggested elsewhere, the Symphony No 2 'The Fall of Constantinople' can perhaps be seen better as a collection of tone poems rather than a true symphony. The music, at times, shows the influence of minimalist American composer but in the Concerto for Orchestra there is much use of traditional Turkish instruments. There is an element of american minimalists meets the Whirling Dervishes, mixed in with the soundtrack to 'Conan the Barbarian'(a fine score, by the way) about the music, but I loved it. Very powerful and noisily dramatic, but interspersed with some lovely lyrical moments, such as 'Haghia Sophia' in the Symphony No 2. The music is tonal and kept my attention throughout. As soon as the CD ended I wanted to play it again. Striking cover imagery and, unusually for Naxos, the booklet contains some photos from the recording session. Well worth investigating (especially at Naxos prices)if you fancy something different.


Rozsa: Ben Hur/ Julius Ceasar/
Rozsa: Ben Hur/ Julius Ceasar/
Price: £12.25

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Three great scores in fine performances, 27 Jun. 2011
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I think that this double CD is the highlight of the recent Decca Eloquence movie reissues. It contains possibly Miklos Rozsa's finest scores (although I'm a great fan of 'Double Indemnity' too). Quo Vadis and Ben Hur in the same recordings appeared a while back on the Vocalion label, but this is preferable due to the addition of Rozsa's terrific score to Julius Caesar (Marlon Brando version). The recordings come from 1974-1977 and are excellent. Ben Hur is given a great performance although I felt that the 'Rowing of the Galley Slaves' sequence, seemed rather too fast from the start and you did not get the same sense of progression as in the movie. It was almost as if the poor galley slaves were at 'Ramming Speed' from the start - so that, by the end of the track, they must have been at 'Take-Off Speed'! Otherwise, all goes well, especially the haunting 'The Burning Desert' sequence where Ben Hur first encounters Jesus of Nazareth - a great moment in the film. For me the highlight of this CD was encountering the music for the earlier score to 'Quo Vadis' - a wonderful score which anticipated a number of later scores, not least Ben Hur itself, Conan the Babarian and Star Wars. Some of the gentler choral sequences even brought to mind Vaughan Williams. Maybe because I am so familiar with the film of Ben Hur and relate all the sequences to episodes of the film, I felt that Quo Vadis, which I do not know really so well worked better as 'pure music'and proved to be a wonderfully integrated score - worthy to stand up alongside Prokofiev's music for 'Alexander Nevsky'. No sooner has Quo Vadis ended than we are thrown into the wonderfully doom laden 'Ides of March' sequence from Julus Caesar - rarely have I encountered such a sense of looming catastrophe conveyed in music and Bernard Herrmann conducts a wonderfully intense version of this terrific score. The Approach of Octavian's Army and Death of Brutus section is also very atmospheric, a little reminiscent of Respighi's 'Pines of Rome'.

Great notes from Raymond Tuttle are the icing on the cake - don't hesitate if you like epic film music.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 6, 2011 10:02 AM BST


Symphony in D Minor, String Quartet (Norwegian Ro)
Symphony in D Minor, String Quartet (Norwegian Ro)
Price: £29.40

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss this!, 5 Jun. 2011
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Outstandingly melodic and memorable material. Alf Hurum was a long-lived Norwegian composer (1882-1972) who was born in Oslo and died in Honolulu. His wife was from Honolulu and Hurum spent much of his life there, which is perhaps why he is not better known in Europe. The music on this CD is quite beautiful, full of memorable material (I had a piece of music going through my head yesterday - couldn't place it and then recognised it as one of the orchestral scores on this disc). If you like Sibelius, Grieg, Madetoja (another underrated composer) and Debussy this should appeal to you. The String Quartet (1912-13) is engaging, light and memorable, but for me the outstanding music here is the Bendik and Aarolilja Symphonic Poem and the great Symphony in D minor of 1927. If you like late-romantic, moving, memorable and powerful scores this could be for you - there is a strong sense of nature. Hurum has been one of the best discoveries for me in recent years - I'm only sorry that he did not write more symphonies. I would be surprised if you regretted the purchase of this CD.


Saving Private Ryan
Saving Private Ryan
Price: £5.50

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good value and an enjoyable score., 4 Jun. 2011
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This review is from: Saving Private Ryan (Audio CD)
If you have enjoyed the intelligent film 'Saving Private Ryan' you may well like to have the equally enjoyable and sometimes moving score by John Williams. Having said that, I think that the best track here is 'High School Teacher' (which accompanies perhaps the best bit of the film - for me anyway) where the emotion is (slightly!) underplayed and therefore more effectively conveyed - there is a great sense of looming threat at the end. The Hymn to the Fallen I am less enthusiastic about - the chorus sounds corny and the whole piece rather contrived, almost a pastiche. I think that this type of tribute is done much more effectively in Samuel Barber's 'Adagio' and in Bernard Herrmann's fine 'For the Fallen'. I realise that many may disagree. Still, Private Ryan remains a fine film score.


Havergal Brian - Symphony No.10, Symphony No.30, Concerto for Orchestra, English Suite No.3
Havergal Brian - Symphony No.10, Symphony No.30, Concerto for Orchestra, English Suite No.3
Offered by Vocalion/Dutton Epoch Direct (Crazygreen8)
Price: £10.99

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific!, 16 Mar. 2011
Havergal Brian's one movement 10th Symphony (1954) is one of his greatest works. A craggy, defiant and epic score - I have waited for decades for a performance from a professional orchestra. Having said that, listening to this fine new CD made me realise what a great job James Loughran and the Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra did on their long deleted recording (the first, I think made of any Brian Symphony and fortunately Brian as a very old man was around to see it). Initially sections of the new recording sounded 'wrong' as I'm so familiar with Loughran's old recording but having listened again I think that Martyn Brabbins and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra produce a wonderful performance of this great work - I found the ending especially poignant in this new recording. The English Suite No 3 is in a lighter style, but very enjoyable, being evidently inspired by the Sussex countryside and the late Symphony No 30, whilst being more elusive than the 10th contains interesting sonorities which held my attention and made me want to it listen again. A must for any Brian fan and a great introduction to his music. Good notes too.
Comment Comments (15) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 23, 2016 8:26 AM GMT


Menotti: Apocalypse and Other Works
Menotti: Apocalypse and Other Works
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £14.95

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful music!, 21 Feb. 2011
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All three works are excellent, but for me the highlight is the short work 'The Masks' by Ronald Lo Presti (1933-1986), which is not even mentioned on the front of the CD! In particular the first movement is extremely moving - a work I often return to and which never fails to grip me. Menotti's 'Apocalypse' is one of his best known orchestral works and is also powerful, very approachable and eloquent - much the same can be said for Dello Joio's 'Meditations on Ecclesiastes'. There are more recent recordings of the Menotti and Dello Joio scores but the Lo Presti is otherwise unavailable. In fact, there seems to be next to nothing by him on CD - a very poor state of affairs as he deserves to be much better known as he is one of the most rewarding American composers (try his 'Elegy for a Young American' on You Tube - a deeply felt tribute to President Kennedy). An excellent programme and all credit to James De Priest, the Oregon SO and Koch for recording Lo Presti.


Music of Samuel Barber
Music of Samuel Barber
Price: £7.88

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding CD, 7 Feb. 2011
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This review is from: Music of Samuel Barber (Audio CD)
I agree with A Hill's review, but I just wanted to add that the Essay No 2 (a diminutive title for a truly symphonic work in 10 minutes!) is my favourite work by Barber - a magnificent and very moving score - and this is my very favourite performance and recording of it and much the same goes for Knoxville (a wonderful work) and the powerful Medea Dance of Vengeance. If you wanted one Barber CD in your collection this is the one that I'd recommend. All credit to Yoel Levi and the Atlanta SO.


Madetoja: Orchestral Works
Madetoja: Orchestral Works
Price: £10.52

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fine composer - overshadowed by Sibelius, 21 Nov. 2010
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I agree with the earlier review - Madetoja was a very fine composer. The influence of Sibelius is strong in places; I was listening to a very enjoyable piece on the radio the other day, which I was sure was a piece of Sibelius - it turned out to be the Ostrobothnian suite (on this CD). Madetoja's Third Symphony is generally considered his greatest, but my favourite is the late romantic Symphony No 2 (1918), in memory of Madetoja's brother who was killed in the Finnish Civil War. I find Madetoja's music to be more moving than Sibelius (Tapiola being a great exception) - try the Epilogue (Andantino) of the Second Symphony, which to me suggests hard-won acceptance, a lovely piece at the end of a fine, memorable symphony. Also, the Prisoner's Song and Arrival Reel of the Ostrobothnian Suite are eloquent and moving. I find that this music remains with me long after I have stopped listening to the CD. You can't go wrong with this fine, reasonably priced set. I have the symphonies on the Alba label too - fine performances, but at a higher price - still, I wouldn't be without the 'Tragic episode and Rapids shooting from the opera Juha' on the Alba CD (Madetoja Orchestral Music Volume 1) this is my favourite single CD of Madetoja's music because as well as featuring the 'Tragic episode from Juha' it also features the Ostrobothnian Suite and Symphony No 2 - worth having I think even if you've invested in the excellent Chandos set.


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