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Neil Ford "Neil" (London)

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A Thirst for Life: With The Accent on Cricket
A Thirst for Life: With The Accent on Cricket
by Henry Blofeld
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolutely splendid read, 26 Jun. 2007
Blowers is a national institution. Henry Blofeld seeks to distance self a little from Blowers the claret guzzling, cake munching, wisecracking, clubbable cricket commentator on BBC Test Match Special. Not everyone can claim to be the son of James Bond's implacable enemy, yet this seems to have no obstacle to the young Henry's , a promising cricketing career (a Cambridge blue no less) tragically cut short as a result of an accident with a bus! One wonders if that explains his fascination with helicopters, buses and pigeons ? Anyway, failing to get on in the City Henry takes up the craft of journalism, and makes a successful career for himself in newspapers and later becomes a much loved figure on Radio and TV. Blofeld in interviews and in these memoirs is not quite the ebullient character who fills the radio waves on an English summer. We find a sensitive soul, a coolly determined professional, a master of his craft carefully honed in the shadows of EW Swanton and John Arlott. Blofeld writes moving about his heart operation, his happy marriage, his disabled stepson, his love of PG Wodehouse and the pleasures of family life. That he's made such an imprint on the game of cricket its fitting that he can write such an attractive memoir and reveal a little more of himself to his adoring public. My dear old thing, thank you!

Piano Sonatas Nos. 1, 3 & 32
Piano Sonatas Nos. 1, 3 & 32
Price: £18.11

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More classic Solomon recordings, 27 Feb. 2007
More classic Solomon recordings. In his sleeve note, Bryce Morrison marvels at Solomon's effortless technical command in op 2/3. Here's a performance that's youthfully vigourous with tremendous drive, and sense of fun, revelling in the young composer's virtuosic keyboard writing. I can't think of any recording that sums up the essence of this work better.

Turning to the last sonata op 111, Solomon's sense of momemtum galvanises the first movement, while his miraculous control in the second movement's variations is exquisitely judged.

Every release in this set has its own surprises. For me op 2/3 is a revelation.

Bach, J.S.: Complete Violin Sonatas
Bach, J.S.: Complete Violin Sonatas
Price: £5.99

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very fine set of the 'other' Bach Sonatas, 29 Oct. 2006
There's some glorious playing in this set, beautfully recorded in a rich church acoustic. Bach's 'other' violin sonatas are unformly inspired containing some of his his most glorious music (especially the E major sonata). Grumiaux's artistry is flawless, breathtakingly seamless legato, full and rich tone (what a lovely instrument he plays!). To hear these works with Harpsichord is refreshing, and fortunately Christiane Jaccottet plays an instrument that sounds right for Bach's music rather than the kind of beast that Landowska advocated.

If I have a quibble with the interpretations, the slow movements are too fast lack then sense of wonder and repose that the great Glenn Gould & Jamie Laredo set found. Gould and Laredo dig a lot deeper into the music and the effect is profoundly spiritual, really one of the most extraordinary CDs ever made.

For a 'modern' (as opposed to 'period') performance of these wonderful works then Grumiaux is a good bet. For period fans then Andrew Manze is very good. For an alternative and hugely involving view of these works then dig out Glenn Gould and Jamie Laredo on Sony.

Byrd; Gibbons; Sweelinck: Keyboard Works
Byrd; Gibbons; Sweelinck: Keyboard Works

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational Gould, 22 Oct. 2006
Gould's often cited his favourite composer was Orlando Gibbons. I think he found the uncluttered simplicity of Gibbons very close to his own aesthetic. Discussing Byrd, he saw him as the dashing, exuberant cousin, very much a public man contrasting Gibbons' intimate modesty. Having been brought up in the Anglican tradition Gould no doubt was exposed to Elizabethan music in the church services of his youth. He said he wore out two LP copies of Alfred Deller's recording Gibbons' Services. This for him was music stripped of all the stresses of the modern world, a place to seek refuge.

That he came to record a disc of Elizabethan music is hardly surprising. Byrd's flashing counterpoint sits so perfectly in Gould's hands, as ever the crystalline precision of playing sounds thrilling in this music. Gibbon's brings a more inward, contemplative approach. Clearly Gould is in some private ecstasy with this music. There's an intensely spiritual dimension to his playing on this disc, one finds it at times in his Bach, but here its intense and all the more moving.

Most Gould fans rate this disc as one of his finest. Moreover its so different to what we've come to expect from a pianist! A disc for dark winter evenings, for meditation and for the soul.

Bach: The Art of the Fugue
Bach: The Art of the Fugue
Price: £6.67

105 of 108 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars some of the most thrilling playing and ecstatic Bach ever recorded, 22 Oct. 2006
The Church that Gould recorded the first nine works in Bach's seminal 'Art of the Fugue' burned down before he got round recording remaining pieces: a great shame given the masterful playing on this CD. People forget (or simply have no idea) that Gould studied organ alongside piano at Toronto Conservatory. He graduated in both instruments aged 12! Gould's mother was organist at a Toronto Anglican church, so not surprisingly organ playing was very much in Gould's blood and may go a long way to explaining his remarkable abilities in contrapuntal music.

Original reviews of this set (when it came out on LP) complained about the closeness of the recording, the microphones shoved close-up to the pipes. This was part of the Gould plan, and conceptually similar to the balances he preferred for his piano discs. I'm not an organist so I can't really comment on the style of his playing. As a listener I find this set thrilling. Above all Bach, Gould revered the Art of the Fugue. He plays the fugues with great erudition, judicious in his tempos, meticulous as ever in counterpoint, all lines emerging with total independence and clarity. There's a real thrill though in the music making, the fugues have tremendous energy and inner joy. A dry study in counterpoint this is not - its an affirmation.

The sound of the disc is a little unconventional in that the acoustic is quite dry, but I think the remastering has the balance about right. Gould wanted your to hear the counterpoint, it doesn't become subsumed in a cavernous acoustic. This disc is a real gem, some of the most thrilling playing and ecstatic Bach ever recorded. Its such a shame he didn't manage to finish this project, but we can be grateful for what he did record!

Violin Concertos Nos 1-2 & Violin Sonata No 2
Violin Concertos Nos 1-2 & Violin Sonata No 2
Offered by \/\/ WORLD WIDE MEDIA MARKET /\/\
Price: £31.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally made it onto CD!, 18 Jun. 2006
After many years these performances have finally appeared on CD. I've worn out my original EMI LP so was very excited about the CD release. Milstein's Prokofiev is less muscular than Oistrakh and doesn't have the drive of Heifetz. He focuses more on the dreamy, lyrical side of these works.

His interpretation of the first concerto is characterized by some of the most seductive violin playing ever recorded, especially the opening bars of the third movement where Milstein's playing takes wing and soars to the heavens. The spirit of this performance is appropriately French rather than Russian. The virtuoso second movement is completely effortless, tossed off with almost nonchalant ease (no doubt leaving the orchestra's violin players in awe!).

The second concerto is a nostalgic laid-back affair that might surprise some people yet it abounds with beautiful moments. Perhaps the slow movement should have been a shade quicker because you do feel it loses its way at times? On repeated listening I've come to see this as a very deliberate interpretive decision. Does Milstein feels the nostalgia for another life embodied in this haunting work? Lets not forget it was written has Stalin's murdering regime was getting down to serious business. The finale lacks the electricity of Heifetz's famous performance a few years prior. I would have loved to ask him.

The laid back second concerto contrasts brilliantly with a sparkling performance of the second Violin Sonata finding Milstein in fiery mood, giving a commanding and powerful interpretation of this fabulous work.

Professional Apache Tomcat 5 (Programmer to Programmer)
Professional Apache Tomcat 5 (Programmer to Programmer)
by Vivek Chopra
Edition: Paperback
Price: £13.83

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars detailed and well written, 9 Jan. 2006
This is an excellent book on Tomcat. It covers everything you need to know and has extra bits on things like ant which can be helpful. Concepts are explained with great clarity and plenty of pictures, making the book an easy read for the impatient techie like me. I think there's plenty of depth as well that would make this book useful for experienced users. Undoubtedly one of the best reference books I've bought for a while.

Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs and Classical Music
Mozart in the Jungle: Sex, Drugs and Classical Music
by Blair Tindall
Edition: Paperback

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading if you are planning a career in music!, 27 Dec. 2005
Reading the blurb on the jacket of this book, you'd think its a Jackie Collins novel, Blair Tindell is an oboist from New York who has a lot to say on the state of classical music in the US, and the drudgery of being a badly paid, over worked classical performer (of which there are so many). There's some titillation in her book but nothing to get excited about. Musicians like many other human beings take drugs, have sex and drink too much. So what ?
Tindell writes very well, the narrative motors along if at times you want to skip the wadges of padding dressed as extended essays and history lessons. This reader was not surprised that Blair changed careers in her late thrities from being full-time musician to career in journalism, playing music to supplement her income. A brave move but undoubtely a wise one. What lead her there is the interesting part.
She's very observant (and sanguine ) of musical society, the letching, the sleeping around the get the best jobs, the general mysery and fawning patronage of classical music by a select few. Its all very depressing but familiar me though my orchestral freinds in London. Much as I love music, I think I'd go crazy if I had to play for a living.
If you are planning a career in classical music, or have freinds or children considering one, this book will put them straight. Its very honest, some reviewers have said damning. Truth is empowerment, and this is why am recommending this excellent book.

Nigel Kennedy plays Salut d'Amour & other Elgar Favourites
Nigel Kennedy plays Salut d'Amour & other Elgar Favourites
Price: £13.14

16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Elgar, 25 Nov. 2005
The Cd's title is erroneous. The Elgar Violin Sonata, one of a trio of chamber works Elgar completed after the First World War is the main item on this disc. Recorded before Nigel Kennedy chopped his hair off and started wearing John Richmond, the the haunting, twilight world of the sonata, the reflections, the aching nostalgia is captured to perfection.

Its a hugely insightful performance showing us what a fabulous musician Kennedy is. Its a gutsier, harder, more youthful performance than the classic Albert Sammons recording but I can't help but think Elgar would have been bowled over with his playing. This music seems to look back wistfully to happier times but doesn't need sentiment. Kennedy understands this (better than in his performances of the concerto I feel).

The fillers are an absolute delight. Elgar wrote wonderful miniatures that were in many great player's repertoire. Chanson de Nuit is played so beautifully by Kennedy, the odd hesitation here, subtle shifts in tone, suspense of vibrato for a moment, techniques that he has so employed in other classical recordings and of course in his work with jazz.

The sound of the disc is bright and atmospheric, early digital at work. Kennedy's pianist Peter Pettinger is sensitive and very sympathetic, though the piano tone is a touch forward.

For music lovers looking to explore lesser know works of Elgar, then this CD is compulsory. And then you need to get the Elgar Piano Quintet recording with the Allegri and John Ogdon!

Mozart: Sonatas for Piano
Mozart: Sonatas for Piano
Offered by avsuk1
Price: £12.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great artistry from Brendel, 6 Nov. 2005
On paper these sonatas look relatively straightforward for a modestly competent pianist such as myself, but great Mozart playing is the highest level of attainment. Lately he's been returning to Mozart. As with his exquisite Haydn Sonata performances, Brendel's approach is deceptively simple but it belies great artistry. These Mozart performances are intimate, classical, spontaneous and deeply satisfying. He employs no pianistic tricks or interpretive quirks, just gives us the music as close to Mozart's scores as possible. I've loved these sonatas for many years and listened to a fair few performances, and I can't but recommend this disc with the greatest enthusiasm.

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