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Hywel James "Hywel James" (Devon, United Kingdom)
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Vaughan Williams: A London Symphony
Vaughan Williams: A London Symphony
Price: £28.76

4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating early recording of a great symphony, 17 July 2014
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Four stars for the restricted sound of this fascinating 1925 recording of Vaughan Williams' "A London Symphony" in its 1920 revised version, but as a document this issue, whether as a download or in compact disc form, deserves a full five stars. Dan Godfrey is a heroic figure in many ways, in enabling a seaside band to become a fine orchestra and through his championship of the work of a great many British composers during the first thirty years or so of the last century.

In actual fact, as with most reissues of early recordings, the ear quickly adjusts to the restricted sound of the time and, after that, the symphony under Godfrey's direction becomes a wholly satisfying listening experience. The pace, sense of forward movement and above all the emotional heart of the piece, are conveyed in an entirely convincing manner. It's probably a disc for the Vaughan Williams enthusiast alone but it is without doubt an important and thoroughly worthwhile issue.


Rawsthorne: Violin Concertos 1 & 2: Improvisations on a Theme of Constant Lambert/ Divertimento
Rawsthorne: Violin Concertos 1 & 2: Improvisations on a Theme of Constant Lambert/ Divertimento
Offered by worldcollectabilia
Price: £4.70

5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent survey of Rawsthorne's music, 10 July 2014
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This disc offers an excellent survey of Alan Rawsthorne's music in distinguished and highly idiomatic performances by musicians who were his contemporaries, knew him well and, in the case of Theo Olof and Manoug Parikian, were intimately associated with his violin concertos presented here. The two concertos indeed are closely-argued and powerfully emotional pieces which deserve to be much better known. That goes for the entire programme on the disc and it is a pity that while Rawsthorne's music occupies a quietly distinguished position in this country, it receives very few actual concert performances.

The recorded sound throughout is excellent and I urge anyone interested in thoughtful, inventive and powerfully emotional music to get hold of this disc before it becomes unavailable.


The Fire The Bombing of Germany, 1940 1945: The Bombing of Germany, 1940-1945
The Fire The Bombing of Germany, 1940 1945: The Bombing of Germany, 1940-1945
by Jörg Friedrich
Edition: Paperback
Price: £19.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Salutary account of the bombing of Germany in WWII, 2 July 2014
Jorg Friedrich's account of the Allied bombing campaign against Germany during the war of 1939 to 1945 is a salutary account of the effect of bombing on, especially, the civilian population in German cities, but also the economic and military performance of the Third Reich. The writer is a journalist, born in 1944. His style is vivid, dramatic and makes a deep impression on the reader while avoiding sensationalism. Moreover it is as even-handed as anything could be, as between the horrors of the bombing campaign on both sides - that of the Allies on Germany and the Luftwaffe against Britain and, to a lesser extent (in terms of the attention given in the book), to Poland, Holland and France, when written by a German of the immediate postwar generation.

I too was born in 1944, and learned from my parents about the bombing of Coventry and other Midland cities (they lived in Birmingham for the first three years of the war), about the London Blitz and the Baedeker Raids. Only much later did I become aware that Germany paid as heavily if not more so for its air raids on the United Kingdom, in the Ruhr, in Hamburg, Lubeck, Berlin and, especially, in Dresden.

This book does not seek to make a special case for Germany but instead offers a valuable and sobering counterbalance to the history of our own country during WWII.


The Art of Sir Hamilton Harty
The Art of Sir Hamilton Harty
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £38.95

5.0 out of 5 stars A fine memorial to an outstanding musician, 27 Jun 2014
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Anyone interested in orchestral music in general and in the development of musical performance in the United Kingdom would both enjoy this compact disc and gain a great deal from hearing the quality of musicianship of the players under this remarkable conductor. Hamilton Harty (1879-1941) was born in County Down and was a virtuoso pianist at the age of twenty-one. He was a noted accompanist and a gifted and prolific composer and arranger. In short, he was an all-round outstanding musician. He became associated with the Halle Orchestra as a conductor and later with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. This disc offers a number of fine performances with this latter band and it is a fitting memorial to Harty's gifts as a conductor. The sound quality is very good for its time, 1933 to 1935. The recordings were made at Abbey Road's Studio No 1 under the remarkable Joe Batten. The performance of Smetana's "Bartered Bride" Overture alone, with its fizzing strings, makes the purchase of the disc worthwhile, but there is much more to enjoy on it. Highly recommended.


Elly Ney Plays Beethoven
Elly Ney Plays Beethoven
Offered by avsuk1
Price: £24.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Good recordings from the 1930s, 22 Jun 2014
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Elly Ney was described in some notes on her I read a while back as "an enthusiastic Nazi". Be that as it may, and it is a serious disincentive to acquiring recordings of her performances, this disc demonstrates nonetheless that she was a remarkably gifted musician and a fine interpreter of Beethoven. The notes written by the excellent Tully Potter accompanying this set of recordings, made in Germany between 1936 and 1938, state among other highly worthwhile observations that Ney was a performer in the almost mystical German tradition exemplified best by Furtwangler.

The sound on this disc is very good indeed and I give it four stars only because of its limited sound compared with modern recordings.


By Antony Beevor - D-Day: The Battle for Normandy (4th Impression)
By Antony Beevor - D-Day: The Battle for Normandy (4th Impression)
by Antony Beevor
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehesive and humane, 22 Jun 2014
In other editions, including Kindle, Antony Beevor's book comes in for a great deal of criticism on Amazon and it is surprising to find that, seventy years on from D-Day, there appear to be more "experts" on the subject now among readers than there were actual participants in that epic event in the summer of 1944. That is, people who, having read virtually everything published since the war, are still fighting about aspects of it - which commanders were the most or least competent, what were the decisive moments, and so on. Forget all that. Beevor's book is a comprehensive and above all humane account of D-Day, its planning, execution and follow-up. There is no definitive account of D-Day that will stand for all time. The writing of history isn't like that. Perspectives change, new material comes to light, old material is tested and sometimes set aside. Writers and readers change and so do their viewpoints, attitudes, prejudices. The chief value of this book is the attention it gives to the victims of war:the men, women and children; the soldiers, sailors and airmen - on all sides; and the country - in this case, France, which was terribly devastated in the pursuit of liberation from Nazi occupation. It is a very good book indeed. There is no best book on the subject but this one is among the best. I recommend it highly.


Schubert: Impromptus, D 899 & D 935
Schubert: Impromptus, D 899 & D 935
Price: £7.12

5.0 out of 5 stars Great Schubert performances from Radu Lupu, 22 Jun 2014
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This disc is beautifully recorded by Decca and Radu Lupu's performances throughout are wonderful:sensitive, dramatic, withdrawn and rhetorical by turns.. The Schubert Impromtus D899 and D935 are like a great novel or an epic journey - heard entire they seem to tell a story but not of course in words; they traverse huge distances but not in miles. I recommend the disc strongly.


D-Day: The Battle for Normandy
D-Day: The Battle for Normandy
Price: £3.49

5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive and humane, 22 Jun 2014
Antony Beevor's book comes in for a great deal of criticism here on Amazon and it is surprising to find that, seventy years on from D-Day, there appear to be more "experts" on the subject now among readers than there were actual participants in that epic event in the summer of 1944. That is, people who, having read virtually everything published since the war, are still fighting about aspects of it - which commanders were the most or least competent, what were the decisive moments, and so on. Forget all that. Beevor's book is a comprehensive and above all humane account of D-Day, its planning, execution and follow-up. There is no definitive account of D-Day that will stand for all time. The writing of history isn't like that. Perspectives change, new material comes to light, old material is tested and sometimes set aside. Writers and readers change and so do their viewpoints, attitudes, prejudices. The chief value of this book is the attention it gives to the victims of war:the men, women and children; the soldiers, sailors and airmen - on all sides; and the country - in this case, France, which was terribly devastated in the pursuit of liberation from Nazi occupation. It is a very good book indeed. There is no best book on the subject but this one is among the best. I recommend it highly.


Beethoven: Concertos Et Sonates - Sélection
Beethoven: Concertos Et Sonates - Sélection
Offered by MEGA Media FBA
Price: £13.55

5.0 out of 5 stars Fine performances and recordings of Beethoven, 9 Jun 2014
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This six compact disc set of Beethoven piano sonatas and concertos performed by Hans Richter-Haaser is highly worthwhile. The recordings are throughout first rate: warm, sharply focussed and immediate. Likewise the performances which are, in addition, dramatic and tender by turns, clearly projected, precise, and possess a quicksilver nature. They date from June 1959 to June 1964, made at EMI's Abbey Road studios, and were overseen variously by Walter Legge, Suvi Raj Grubb and Walter Jellinek.

Richter-Haaser is perhaps less well known now than his considerable artistry deserves. He was born in Dresden in 1912 and died at the age of 68 in 1980. It is possible that after a spate of recordings - represented particularly by those reissued in this box set - he was to an extent overlooked by record companies at the time perhaps spoilt for choice for great pianists of Richter-Haaser's generation, including, for example, Richter and Gilels.

The sonatas included are Nos 1-3, 16-18, 22, 26, 27, 29, 30-32. The Diabelli Variations and a couple of smaller pieces for piano are also included. The concertos are Nos 3, 4 and 5. The programme notes and the biographical sketch are in French only, because the set is an EMI France issue from 2010.

This box offers distinguished performances by a master pianist and I recommend it warmly, particularly at its current bargain price.


Piano Concertos Nos 4 And 5 'emperor' (Richter-Haaser, Po)
Piano Concertos Nos 4 And 5 'emperor' (Richter-Haaser, Po)
Price: £15.62

5.0 out of 5 stars Refined and thoughtful Beethoven performances, 31 May 2014
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I have little to add to the review by "Young Paul" here on Amazon, other than to endorse his positive remarks and to add my own expression of enthusiasm for these performances of the Fourth and Fifth piano concertos by Richter-Haaser, with the Philharmonia directed by Istvan Kertesz. The recordings themselves are very fine - they come from a classic period in the history of EMI - and Testament are to be congratulated on reissuing a highly worthwhile compact disc.


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