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B. D. Rous

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Sennheiser CX 400 II Precision Noise Isolating Ear-canal Phones with Integrated Volume Control - Black
Sennheiser CX 400 II Precision Noise Isolating Ear-canal Phones with Integrated Volume Control - Black
Price: £61.79

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Sound good, longevity poor, 15 Aug 2011
This is my third pair of Sennheiser CX 400 II ear phones, and this is the third time to loose sound in the left earpiece after only a few months of non-heavy use. It seems, reading other reviews, that this is a common problem. Shame, because the sounds is generally excellent with a realtively wide dynamic range.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 19, 2011 7:55 PM GMT

Opera Arias
Opera Arias
Price: £7.85

29 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, not great (yet), 24 Oct 2003
This review is from: Opera Arias (Audio CD)
The start of the disc is a bit rough. The voice is pleasant enough, well-produced with an even sound from the lower to the higher range. The trill, though, is hit or miss, not well articulated and the lack of a well-defined trill certainly is ontrusive in the selections that warrant one (such as the faust aria)
In short, the two Mozart arias are not elegant enough. She makes some heavy weather of the florid runs (especially in Non mi dir) which seems surprising given the other arias on the disc. The staccati are executed well though.
The french arias are also somewhat problematic. The aria from Benvenuto Cellini, arguably a bit of a signature role for her, doesn't work that well, and her Manon lacks humour and wit, and a touch of elegance. She doesn't really get behind the words, and has some funny pronunciations. The high D's in the Gavotte
also sounds uncomfortable.
Then we move to happier times. For me, she seems to connect to the two belcanto composers much better than the pieces that went before. Her Lucia scene perhaps lacks the ultimate degree of word painting and the sense of impending doom, but
it is extremely well sung, and the cabaletta well executed, although I didn't agree with her choices a few ornamental decisions. Her concluding high note is slightly better than on the Manon track, but those don't seem to be her "money-notes", as it were. They are more comfortable than the ones Angela Gheorghiu makes on her bel canto disc, but still...
The Sonnambula scene is, for me, almost a complete success. She sings well, manages to create a character in the process, and the florid work is done with grace and elegance, an element sometimes missing in the other arias. Again, the concluding accuto (E flat?) is done well enough, but not extremely comfortable. All in all I would say this is the best aria on the disc.
The Marguerite aria is given with a little bit of recitative, and she sings it well, with a strong high C at the end, although the tempi chosen for the aria are most peculiar. The conductor slows down considerably at the end, where
others go faster. I guess this could work as a hightening of Marguerite's dream-like state at seeing herself in the mirror, but I'm still not sure if I like it. Have to give it a few more listenings I guess. What almost disqualifies the presence of this aria is her lack of a good trill. If any aria needs it, it's this one, and Netrebko doesn't deliber the goods.
The Rusalka aria. Why, o why, if you've got the Vienna Philharmonic at your disposal, do you choose to omit the superb harp intro to this beautiful piece? It considerably mars the sense of momentum for me, since it really sets the dreamy mood. She sings well, although with less refulgence than a Fleming can
bring to it. A bit anonymously, though. Again, strong high note at the end, although she could have held on to it a bit longer...
The Musetta aria is a charming, if slightly puzzling, way to close the disc. Why not choose another belcanto piece? She sings it charmingly enough, with a degree of humour, and gets behind the character more than I've heard her do on other
items on the disc, but I would much rather have heard her in something earlier ottocento Italian. I think, for instance, that "Oh quante volte" from Bellini's I Capuletti ed i Montecchi would have been a perfect fit for her voice.
So, in conclusion; a rather gorgeous voice (with looks to match), with a distinct, but pleasant, Slavic quality to it, with a deal of maturing to do artistically. Could ascend
to greatness if she learns how to identify a bit more with her roles. And either chooses her repertoire to suit her gifts and apparent flaws (uncomfortable high notes, lack of trill), or do some more training in this department.

Verdi Arias
Verdi Arias
Offered by RareRecordsLimited
Price: £12.69

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top notch Verdi singing, 1 Oct 2003
This review is from: Verdi Arias (Audio CD)
The proof that wonderful things can come out of small studios is here. This disc of late period verdi arias is a winner on almost every count. First and foremost there's the music of the Italian master at the very height of his imaginitive powers, which were considerable even before then. But that's not all. Recitals in the past have proven that this music is not to be taken lightly, and that it needs a disciplined and creative artist to pll them off.
Inessa Galante proves herself such an artist on this disc. She sings arias from the last six operas he wrote and what is perhaps, after all, his greatest achievement, the Requiem mass. Opening the disc are the two big arias for Amelia from "Un ballo in maschera". Alas, a chance to start things completely perfectly is missed by not including the orchestral introduction and opening lines ("ecoo l'orrido campo") for the first aria, but begins with the aria proper, "Ma dall'arido stelo divulsa". This is sung with feeling, intelligence, and some remarkable piano singing, traits which are to continue throughout the recital. The second aria, "Morro, ma prima in grazia", is again sung with a fine sense of Verdian line and insight into the meaning of the text, even if the Italian is not completely idiomatic at times. A very, very minor quibble, I might add.
We continue with the not often recorded prayer "La vergine degli angeli" from "La Forza del destino". In this we also hear the Choir of the Stockholm School of Economics, Riga for the first time, and a pleasant contribution it is. Beautiful, homogenous sonorous singing, with again a lovely rendition by galante. She starts the next aria, "Pace, pace mio Dio", rather too forcefully for my taste, especially given the lovely piano singing in the previous items. This is quickly overcome in the rest of the aria, with some beautiful,blloming high notes, and a powerful ending, although not taken in the same breath as the final "maledizione", but then not many sopranos can.
We get to "Aida" with the march music introducing "Ritorna vincitor", followed by "O patria mia" without the introduction ("qui Radames verra"), a somewhat curious fact. Both arias are sung beautifully, with nice changes in dynamics and shading, and again some ravishing pianissimo notes and a sterling high C in the second aria. The grand aria for Elisabetta, "Tu che le vanita", is next, and it too gets the grand treatment it deserves. Strangely, some of the lower stretches find the voice with a bit less colour, although this is not always the case. Again, plenty of identification and emotion.
The next two operas represented here are perhaps less obvious choices. Inessa Galante has a voice that obviously tends towards spinto capacity, and she makes some heavier weather of Desdemona's lower lying music than perhaps is customary. But then, the beautiful quiet singing and the total abandon with which she sing the Willow song and prayer are captivating, and you could not wish for a more beautifully ended Ave Maria. Least succesful perhaps is the Nanetta's aria from Falstaff. This is so obviously an Alice voice singing the wrong part, it would have been wiser to have omitted this piece in favour of some introductory music (Un ballo) or the other, wonderful aria from "La Forza", "Madre pietosa vergine", which she undoucbtedly would have dispatched with aplomb.
Ending this highly satisfactory disc is a superb, rousing acount of the last section of Verdi's Messa da Requiem, the "Libera me", wth both the thundering and introspective sections given their due, with again some superb singing from the Rigan Choir. Both conductor and orchestra keep things moving in a truly grand and impassioned Verdi manner, not on ly here but throughout the disc. The recording is spacious, favouring the voice a little, but placing it more backwards when choral singing is involved.
All in all, this is a disc that has given me immense pleasure, as I'm sure it will do many others with a passion for Verdi and great, accomplished singing.

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