Shop now Shop now Shop now Up to 70% off Fashion Shop All Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Amazon Fire TV Amazon Pantry Food & Drink Beauty Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Listen with Prime Shop now Shop now
Profile for Hywel James > Reviews

Personal Profile

Content by Hywel James
Top Reviewer Ranking: 1,217
Helpful Votes: 1407

Learn more about Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Hywel James "Hywel James" (Devon, United Kingdom)
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20
pixel
Constantin Silvestri - ICON: The Complete EMI Recordings
Constantin Silvestri - ICON: The Complete EMI Recordings
Price: £23.48

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great recordings under an outstanding conductor, 17 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I echo Paul B's review in saying that this box set of recordings by Constantin Silvestri is very good indeed. His review itemises the individual performances and accordingly I need not repeat the information other than to agree again that, as he says, the quality of the recordings are generally good, with those of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra being among the best. I too heard Silvestri live with the Bournemouth Orchestra, at the Dome, Brighton, in about 1966 or 1967. I am sorry to say I was too young to appreciate his Bruckner Fifth at the time. but I like to think in retrospect that the experience at least obliged me to sit still and address myself to a piece of music which seemed to be the size of the Alps. A great set of recordings. Buy now!


Symphony No 1
Symphony No 1
Price: £25.25

4.0 out of 5 stars The rumpled brown tweed suit, 19 Sept. 2015
This review is from: Symphony No 1 (Audio CD)
I won't comment on the recording because the main issues have been more than adequately covered in the reviews here on Amazon but I will add that, at the age of 22, I attended this concert at the Royal Albert Hall with several friends. As far as we were concerned it was an event not to be missed. Chiefly, of course, because here was an enormous piece of music by a then largely forgotten and very aged composer being given its first professional performance, but also because Havergal Brian was our man - he lived in Portslade and we lived in nearby Brighton. Brighton's "Evening Argus" had given the concert its imprimatur, so what were we waiting for?!

What I remember most about the event was the wall of sound and, at the end of the concert, the sight of the old man, possibly Portslade's oldest inhabitant, in a rumpled brown tweed suit, dwarfed by the very tall Sir Adrian Boult who held the score aloft. A great and very touching occasion.


Debussy: La Mer, Nocturnes, Jeux, Clair de Lune, Prelude
Debussy: La Mer, Nocturnes, Jeux, Clair de Lune, Prelude
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £12.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Great performances beautifully recorded., 25 Aug. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
These recordings, made between 1950 and 1965 by Decca, of Debussy orchestral music performed by the Suisse Romande Orchestra under their founder-conductor, Ernest Ansermet, are refined and dramatic, and they have been wonderfully remastered for the Australian 'Eloquence' label. The package comes with good essays on the music and on Ansermet's relationship to it, and to his relationship with the orchestra and the record company for which he recorded exclusively for all of the later part of his career. The earliest recordings in the set are in mono but all the later ones are in good stereo. Throughout the generous total time of 146 minutes the sound is either good or excellent. Taken as a whole the discs offer that most valuable feature - an insight into the sound of a particular orchestra, at a particular time, under the direction of a remarkable conductor who was wholly in touch with this composer's musical idiom. Indeed my only criticism of this issue, and it is a very minor one, is the choice of the sugary Disneyesque illustration on the cover - this wonderful two-disc set deserved better. Other than that, I recommend it unreservedly.


Ma Vlast (1956 Recording)
Ma Vlast (1956 Recording)
Offered by marvelio-uk
Price: £6.26

3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting recording but somewhat thin sound, 17 Jun. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Dorati's 1956 recording of 'Ma Vlast' has some claims to being of historical significance and, to an extent, it is an interesting issue, largely because the orchestra, the Concertgebouw, was a very fine ensemble at this time, having been the beneficiary of Van Beinum's artistry for some years, and Dorati himself was a great musician in the middle of a long and distinguished career as a conductor in the 1950s.

However, the sound on these discs is somewhat thin and wiry - I tried them on two different systems - and the performance as a whole comes over as pretty bombastic. Sargent's recording with the RPO, made only a few years subsequently, offers far better sound, and Dorati's own later recording, again with the Concertegbouw, is preferable to this 1956 version. Presumably the conductor felt impelled to record the piece again, with better recording technology.


The Philips Legacy
The Philips Legacy
Price: £20.47

5.0 out of 5 stars A great musical bargain, 18 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Philips Legacy (Audio CD)
This box set of music directed by Jean Martinon is not only a bargain, it also offers wonderful musicmaking by a great conductor and composer - always a worthwhile combination - with the Lamoureux Orchestra sounding distinctively French (the French horn solos sounding as though they had been played by the great Jack Teagarden!) in recordings made in the early 1950s. The range of works included is wide, from Mozart to Honegger, the latter being a living composer at the time the recordings were made. The recording quality throughout, despite being limited to mono, is first class. Finally, there is an excellent essay on Martinon by Pierre-Yves Lascar included in the box. Strongly recommended.


Art for Everyone: Contemporary Lithographs Ltd
Art for Everyone: Contemporary Lithographs Ltd
by Ruth Artmonsky
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £12.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully illustrated account of underrated artists, 5 May 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Ruth Artmonsky's book is beautifully produced and offers a wealth of high quality illustrations of a range of largely neglected art from the 1930s, art by individuals whose work is only now beginning to receive serious attention. The text is informative and represents some thorough research on the part of the author regarding artist-printmakers whose names and reputations have in a number of cases been overlooked and much underrated for decades.

Highly recommended.


The Black Arrow: A Tale of the Two Roses (Penguin Classics) [ THE BLACK ARROW: A TALE OF THE TWO ROSES (PENGUIN CLASSICS) BY Stevenson, Robert Louis ( Author ) Jan-01-2008[ THE BLACK ARROW: A TALE OF THE TWO ROSES (PENGUIN CLASSICS) [ THE BLACK ARROW: A TALE OF THE TWO ROSES (PENGUIN CLASSICS) BY STEVENSON, ROBERT LOUIS ( AUTHOR ) JAN-01-2008 ] By Stevenson, Robert Louis ( Author )Jan-01-2008 Paperback
The Black Arrow: A Tale of the Two Roses (Penguin Classics) [ THE BLACK ARROW: A TALE OF THE TWO ROSES (PENGUIN CLASSICS) BY Stevenson, Robert Louis ( Author ) Jan-01-2008[ THE BLACK ARROW: A TALE OF THE TWO ROSES (PENGUIN CLASSICS) [ THE BLACK ARROW: A TALE OF THE TWO ROSES (PENGUIN CLASSICS) BY STEVENSON, ROBERT LOUIS ( AUTHOR ) JAN-01-2008 ] By Stevenson, Robert Louis ( Author )Jan-01-2008 Paperback
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Edition: Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars "Ye Tayle of Olden Dayes", 21 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
R L Stevenson's tale of Richard Shelton and the girl he fell in love with, whom at first he thought was a soft boy, set against the background of the Wars of the Roses, in Suffolk of all places (where no really important battles were fought), with dastardly knights, a guy who might really be Robin Hood, sailors, peasants, spear carriers, castles, moated granges, and so on, is straight out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It's not half as good as "Treasure Island", which is a masterpiece, and maybe Stevenson couldn't pull off another masterpiece so soon after the story of plucky Jim Hawkins and the Hispaniola. But it's an entertaining book, even if there is an awful lot of "By my Halidom, you'll pay for this Sir Jasper!" and so on. Recommended but not strongly...


I Wish (Kiseki) [DVD]
I Wish (Kiseki) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Koki Maeda
Price: £5.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, tender and profound family story, 21 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: I Wish (Kiseki) [DVD] (DVD)
Koreeda's movie is a thoughtful, gently touching, funny and unexpectedly profound study of two small boys whose mum and dad have split up, each taking one of the boys with them. The mother lives in a tiny flat with her parents; the dad, likewise in a tiny flat, but whose companions are his fellow rock band members. The cast of actors is great: the grown-ups are professionals, the children are simply children whom the director chose to play the parts, and very good they all are. Indeed, the kids weren't shown the complete script for the film but were simply briefed on the plot on a day-by-day basis, and then rehearsed using improvised dialogue.

The camerawork is exceptionally imaginative, varied and entirely at the service of the dramatic and emotional needs of the film. All the while the volcano, Sakurajima, across the bay from the city of Kagoshima, rumbles away like some wordless Greek chorus commenting on the action of the drama and underlining the unease felt by the older of the two boys who worries that his mum and dad will never get back together. Highly recommended.


Flowers of the Field [Jeremy Irons/ Roderick Williams/ Hilary Davan Wetton] [Naxos: 8.573426]
Flowers of the Field [Jeremy Irons/ Roderick Williams/ Hilary Davan Wetton] [Naxos: 8.573426]
Price: £5.32

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile anthology with a few balance problems in the recording, 10 April 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This disc offers a highly worthwhile anthology of fine music, some of which has not previously been recorded or, indeed, performed in complete versions. The Butterworth Rhapsody is a lovely work and is given a strongly emotional performance, more in the tradition of Barbirolli than in the more restrained manner of Boult. The pieces by Finzi and Gurney are far less well known and it is good that they have now been made available. Vaughan Williams' 'Oxford Elegy' for speaker, chorus and orchestra has been recorded twice previously. There are few finer speakers of English verse today than Jeremy Irons and he reads Matthew Arnold's words beautifully. As another reviewer here on Amazon has noted, Irons' approach is more restrained than that of John Westbrook, who recorded the piece with Sir David Willcocks back in the 1960s. It is doubtful whether Westbrook's declamatory style would be found appropriate now, and Jeremy Irons' musical voice suits the Elegy well.

In the Finzi Requiem, Roderick Williams sings the brief verses by Thomas Hardy with his customary nobility and subtle attention to dynamics, but on the occasion of the recording his voice seemed to have developed a rapid beat, perhaps due to tiredness. He is nonetheless a fine singer.

I have serious reservations about the balance in the recording, most especially in the Vaughan Williams, between the speaker, the choir and the orchestra. The two last have been allowed to occasionally overwhelm the speaker. More generally, in the moments of emotional intensity the volume of the choir and orchestra surges alarmingly and seems at odds with the reflective melancholy of the work as a whole. The conductor, Hilary Davan Wetton, and the engineer, Mike Clements, both highly experienced professionals, should have ensured that the recording of this wonderful yet comparatively delicate piece was given more space and subtlety.

However, as I have said, this is a highly worthwhile anthology of music and I recommend it strongly with a few reservations, hence the four stars out of five.


Seascapes - Debussy/Bridge/Glazunov/Zhou Long
Seascapes - Debussy/Bridge/Glazunov/Zhou Long
Price: £15.11

5.0 out of 5 stars Great sound, great performances., 31 Mar. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I simply echo what J S Bower has written here on Amazon. I am likewise as enthusiastic. These pieces make for a fine anthology of "sea pictures", and while some listeners will quarrel with Lan Shui's somewhat lingering tempi from time to time in the first and last movements of "La Mer", I wasn't unduly disturbed by them. Indeed, they offered a contrast to the faster, wilder parts of the score, and contributed to the sense of the recording being a "live" performance. The Frank Bridge piece, which cannot have been known previously to the players of the Singapore orchestra, is beautifully played and in this particular recording, which is an SACD (compatible) disc, I would recommend it above others currently available. Altogether this is a highly attractive programme and I recommend it without hesitation.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11-20