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Reviews Written by
Jeffrey Davis "jmd555555" (Sussex UK)
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Song Of The Sea [DVD]
Song Of The Sea [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tomm Moore
Price: £5.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific in all respects., 19 Nov. 2015
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This review is from: Song Of The Sea [DVD] (DVD)
A beautiful, lyrical and deeply moving film suitable for all ages and featuring a wonderful musical score.


Kurland Sounds - Vasks, Esenvalds, Smidbergs
Kurland Sounds - Vasks, Esenvalds, Smidbergs
Price: £15.58

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my best CD discoveries of 2015., 11 Oct. 2015
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This is a terrific CD and I loved all three works. I knew the Vasks Symphony 2 from an excellent earlier release on Ondine but this version is just as good. I fact I found some sections more gripping than in the Ondine version although I thought that the beautiful 'fading away' coda slightly more moving in the earlier recording. I regard Vasks's Second Symphony to be the greatest symphony written by a living composer and anyone who loves the work as much as I do will want both recordings, which compliment each other. The other works were new to me. I didn't expect much from the title 'Merry-Go-Round' by Vilnis Smidbergs as I tend to like dark, introspective music, but I thoroughly enjoyed it and in fact it enters a twilight Baxian world towards the end. Eriks Esenvalds 'Visions of Arctic: Night' for clarinet, orchestra and electronics was powerful, moving and memorable with one haunting section reminiscent of the beautiful bird-song epilogue of Honegger's 'Liturgique' Symphony. As soon as I'd played the CD I wanted to hear it all over again. This is approachable, thoughtful, imaginative and atmospheric Latvian music, beautifully performed by Atvars Lakstigala and the Liepaja Symphony Orchestra. Don't hesitate!


Melikov:Legend Of Love [The Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, Valery Gergiev] [MELODIYA: MELCD 1002326]
Melikov:Legend Of Love [The Moscow Radio Symphony Orchestra, Valery Gergiev] [MELODIYA: MELCD 1002326]
Price: £18.45

5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric and highly enjoyable music., 18 Sept. 2015
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I have also really enjoyed this double CD set. The music will appeal to any admirer of the ballet scores of Khachaturian or Gliere I would imagine. I find myself often playing this CD to soak up the Eastern atmosphere. If you can immerse yourself in the atmosphere of the story you will enjoy this. Melikov was born in 1933 and is an Azerbaijani composer and 'Legend of Love' has a clear soviet subtext with individual happiness sacrificed for the welfare of all. Striking cover art. The mysterious and slightly ominous repeating motto theme (track 2) keeps going through my head!


The Berkeley Edition: Volume 1
The Berkeley Edition: Volume 1

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lennox Berkeley's First Symphony is a fine work., 15 Sept. 2015
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I'm just writing this to say how much I disagree with the comments written by Michael White (above) about Lennox Berkeley's First Symphony (1940) which I find neither 'without backbone' or 'hollow'; on the contrary I find it to be memorable and moving (especially the opening movement and the slow movement). Yes, Berkeley Senior writes elegant and 'civilised' music but I find an underlying depth, perhaps reflecting the time of its composition.


Walton: Symphony No. 1
Walton: Symphony No. 1
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £19.16

4.0 out of 5 stars Great recording of a famous performance., 13 Sept. 2015
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This review is from: Walton: Symphony No. 1 (Audio CD)
This fine Japanese release of Previn's classic recording has finally come down in price and for the myriad admirers of this famous performance it is a clear first choice. Although the booklet is largely in Japanese the original back of the LP is reproduced in English including photos of Walton and the young Andre Previn. Also the CD itself has a nostalgic-like LP look to it which is appealing. For me any performance of Walton's First Symphony stands or falls by the crucial oboe solo at the very start of the work which sets the mood for the whole symphony. I have personally never liked the opening of this performance. For me the crucial oboe solo at the start should sound tentative, nervous and anxious (as it does, for example in Boult's early Pye recording, Sargent and Mackerras's EMI versions or Bryden Thomson's magnificent version on Chandos). Here, however, it sounds routine and matter-of-fact - completely lacking in the underlying anxiety and nervous tension which is such an important component of this great symphony. This effectively ruins the performance for me but I have given if four stars as I know that it is so highly regarded by many other listeners. The rest of the performance, including the magnificent climax of the first movement, is great and this CD includes a very fine version of the Viola Concerto, which I far prefer to the more highly rated Violin Concerto. Edward Gardner's new recording of Symphony 1 on Chandos is another terrific version. This Japanese release is a superior recording of Previn's first version but, speaking personally, I would never recommend it as a first choice.


Ralph Vaughan Williams: A London Symphony (1920 version) Concerto for Two Pianos (1926-1931 arr. 1946)
Ralph Vaughan Williams: A London Symphony (1920 version) Concerto for Two Pianos (1926-1931 arr. 1946)
Offered by Vocalion/Dutton Epoch Direct (Crazygreen8)
Price: £10.99

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific in all respects., 5 Aug. 2015
This, in my opinion, is the most interesting Vaughan Williams release since the surprising appearance of a complete symphonic cycle on Melodiya conducted by Rozhdestvensky. This terrific new recording restores the 1920 version of 'A London Symphony' which includes some remarkable music which the composer (mistakenly in my view, though others will disagree) excised from the score in 1936. Above all, this recording features what I believe is the best and certainly most moving section of the symphony, at the start of the Epilogue (from about 10 minutes 25 seconds into the last movement). It is actually one of my favourite moments in all of Vaughan Williams's music and here we get the chance to hear it in a wonderful new recording and performance. Of course the music will be familiar to anyone who has heard the 1913 version recorded by the sadly missed Richard Hickox. When I asked Richard Hickox to sign my programme after his Barbican performance of the 1913 version I said that I thought that Vaughan Williams had cut out the best bit of the symphony and he said that he agreed. Bernard Herrmann, Arnold Bax and Adrian Boult all apparently challenged VW over some of the changes he made. The fact that these sections were still in the score in 1920 shows that VW valued them at least up until that point and whatever the symphony gained in sibelian-like concision in 1936 it was at the expense of some intensely poetic sections. That is my view anyway and I think that the 1920 version should have been the definitive version, although, of course, it never will be.
It has been on CD before on a super CD entitled 'British Music from America' on the Biddulph label (1993) and featuring a fine performance from 1941 conducted by Eugene Goosens and the Cincinatti Symphony Orchestra. This was recorded, presumably, as a wartime tribute to besieged London and as the 1936 parts were not available the 1920 version was recorded. This was the first time I heard any of the music that the composer later deleted and I was totally amazed by the quality of the music which VW jettisoned.

Martin Yates and the excellent Royal Scottish National Orchestra give a warm-hearted, poetic and deeply moving performance of this great score, rather in the spirit of Barbirolli's EMI recording of the 1936 version, which together with Andre Pevin's RCA version and Sir Adrian Boult's EMI recording are my favourites of the later version. I cannot now listen to the 1936 version without being acutely aware of the missing section at the end and I suspect that I will always listen to the 1920 or 1913 version from now on.

I have always preferred the two piano version of the Piano Concerto - a most underrated work but maybe that is because I first grew to know and love the work through a great old EMI LP which featured the Vronsky/Babin/Boult version together with the Symphony No.8 and, on its cover, the wonderful later painting of a remarkably owl-like Vaughan Williams by Sir Gerald Kelly. However, the two piano version emphasises the percussive qualities of the piano which is another reason why I think it works so well in Vaughan Williams's overall conception of the work. Leon McCawley and John Lenehan give excellent performances with sympathetic accompaniment from Martin Yates.
The production values of the disc are excellent too and all credit to Dutton for releasing it. Lewis Foreman provides very helpful and informative booklet notes and there is a fine photo of the composer included too. Together with Cyril Rootham's Second Symphony on Lyrita I have no doubt that this will be one of my favourite and most often played discs of the year - don't miss it!


Walton: Belshazzar's Feast, Coronation Te Deum, Gloria
Walton: Belshazzar's Feast, Coronation Te Deum, Gloria
Price: £13.18

5.0 out of 5 stars Best version known to me., 30 July 2015
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This is my favourite version of Belshazzar's Feast and I have many recordings. I don't really agree with the review by the other Geoffrey as I find it as exciting as any other version and in the 'writing on the wall' section (played slower than usual) more chilling. The recording is terrific as is the accompanying booklet with its biblical illustrations from Gustav Dore and other photos. I thought that the spacing of the chords at the end were absolutely right. With terrific couplings this is a wonderful disc.


Cyril Rootham Symphony No.2 & Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity
Cyril Rootham Symphony No.2 & Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity
Price: £13.38

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!, 14 July 2015
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Well, seven years after the Lyrita CD release of Rootham's bracing and life-affirming First Symphony (recorded initially in 1976) comes the Symphony 2 from 1938 (recorded in 1984) completed a few days before the composer passed away. Compared to the bracing and dynamic First Symphony, the Second Symphony, unsurprisingly perhaps given the circumstances of its composition, is a comparatively tranquil and reflective, though characteristically melodic work, of three movements; a chorus, towards the end, movingly sings a passage from the Revelation of St. John the Divine ('Behold, there shall be no more death...') Rootham's was seriously ill and then dying when he completed the work ten days before he died with the loyal help of his friend and former pupil Patrick Hadley. Rootham had given the premier performance of Hadley's wonderful 'The Trees so High' (do listen to this if you don't know it). I have to say that I found the final section of Rootham's Second Symphony, where the music seems to enter a kind of ethereal/spiritual zone, with the strings playing a repeating eight note passage against the chorus, to be almost unbearably moving but maybe this was partly because I know that the composer was dying as he wrote/orchestrated this passage. The Symphony seems to end in a profound sense of peace and acceptance.
Rootham was a great composer of choral music and Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity (1925-28) is another moving and powerful work of considerable depth. I would imagine that this would appeal, for example, to anyone who enjoys 'Quo Vadis' by Sir George Dyson or the choral works of Vaughan Williams. I have only listened to this work once and expect that it will give up more of its secrets with repeated listening. But it held my attention throughout and I can't wait to hear it again. This is a double CD set featuring excellent notes by Paul Conway and a fine photo of the pipe-smoking composer. Don't hesitate under any circumstances if you have any interest in British composers of the 20th century or in fine music generally. I suspect that this fine set will bring much pleasure. The recordings are not new. The Ode comes from 1975 and was performed in honour of the centenary of Rootham's birth and is in mono. The Symphony is from a BBC broadcast from 1984. However, don't let this put you off. Both performances sounded terrific to me and the recording caused no problems.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 22, 2015 4:36 PM BST


Tournemire/Symphonies 3 And 8
Tournemire/Symphonies 3 And 8
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £14.56

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely beautiful and deeply moving symphony, 28 May 2015
Why is Symphony No.3 'Moscow' 1913 not better known? It is a deeply felt and beautiful score, which I have listened to over and over again. There is no surface gloss but this symphony is wonderful. More like Cesar Frank than Stravinsky but unique in its way with lots of bell-like resonances. I cannot recommend it strongly enough. Symphony 8 'The Triumph of Death' is not, perhaps, as immediately approachable but just as rewarding in its own way. Tournemire has been a great new discovery for me. The Third Symphony is inspiriting, life-affirming and warm-hearted. I doubt that anyone would regret hearing this great score.


Williams: Dona nobis pacem; Hough: Missa Mirabilis
Williams: Dona nobis pacem; Hough: Missa Mirabilis
Price: £14.41

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great performance of the Vaughan Williams., 12 May 2015
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Vaughan Williams's fine oratorio - a plea for peace as the war clouds gathered over Europe in 1936 - has been well served on record. There have been a number of recordings by American orchestras, not least the fine old premiere LP release with Maurice Abravanel and the Utah SO with chorus and soloists. Somm have recently released an excellent 1936 recording conducted by the composer. Of course, Vaughan Williams was very attracted as a young man to the poems of Walt Whitman and these feature here interspersed with biblical extracts. Although the oratorio was composed over many decades it hangs together well and is one of the composer's greatest and ultimately most uplifting works. This version from Andrew Litton and the Colorado SO is as good as any and possesses a unique warmth and humanity which is very appealing. This is currently my favourite version of the work with excellent recording, soloists and orchestral playing. The companion work by Stephen Hough is approachable but not in the same league as the VW work. The CD contains the final notes from Michael Kennedy who sadly died before the recording was released but this is a fine tribute to him. The booklet also contains a fine and characteristic photograph of Vaughan Williams.


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